Today, there are hurricane warnings in Florida as the president makes his thirteenth trip to the Gulf Coast since it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina one year ago. He isn’t planning to make any new aid announcements or policy proposals, nor is he planning to spend much time with people most affected by the storm and its aftermath. He plans to give an address to “persuade local residents and doubters elsewhere that he remains committed to seeing the region rebuilt better than before.” He will spend most of his time in Mississippi, rather than “harder-hit, less-recovered New Orleans,” and after his lunch with community leaders in Biloxi, he will “walk through a damaged neighborhood and visit a Gulfport company that builds and repairs boats.” Today will be a day for photo ops.
Today is not about the recovery of the Gulf Coast, not really. Because even though one year later, the “job of clearing debris left by the storm remains unfinished, and has been plagued by accusations of price gouging,” and even though one year later, “tens of thousands of families still live in trailers or mobile homes, with no indication of when or how they will be able to obtain permanent housing,” and even though one year later, “important decisions about rebuilding and improving flood defenses have been delayed” and “little if anything has been done to ensure the welfare of the poor in a rebuilt New Orleans,” and even though one year later, huge numbers of people are still displaced, the president doesn’t believe in the significance of this anniversary, or pointing to it in urgency to get local and state officials, who he blames for the delays in rebuilding, to get things done. What today is really about is the recovery of Bush’s image.
But this catastrophic mess is his to own. It was the finest moment for Bush Conservatism, which advocates a social Darwinism that first leaves people without the means to evacuate and then allows those on higher (and dryer) ground to blame the drowning masses for their own desperate circumstance, which advocates the appointment of people to government specifically because of their disdain for its basic duties on behalf of those most in need of its service, which advocates “starving the beast” to make the federal government as effective as a tiger without its fangs, which advocates cronyism that finds useless, incompetent twits in charge of a massive emergency operation.
Katrina was the inevitable failure in the wake of Bush Conservatism’s success.
Today, in spite of Bush’s desire to separate himself from the shining glory of his most precious policies, we remember how he failed Americans, and failed America.
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Watch Us and Them and Short People, care of Joe Max.
Oddjob points to today's front page story in the Boston Globe with the note, “It does indeed logically stand to reason that if one elects into office people who don't believe the government has any real business existing (beyond the bare necessities of a standing military) that disaster relief will be handled horrifically. Garbage in, garbage out...”
A year ago, I did a round-up of bloggers who were making the point that Katrina was the inevitable failure in the wake of Bush Conservatism’s success, an observation the Democrats still desperately need to make clearly and unabashedly. Below are some of those excerpts, again.
Rob Salkowitz: "It’s moments like this when you need a party in power that actually believes in the affirmative power of government to help its citizens, rather than the party that sees government’s role as protecting the property of the well-off from the predations of the underclass. It’s when the true ugly soul of American conservatism is borne out for what it is: a rationalization of selfishness and the hysterical denial of community. America is about to see what happens when the government is staffed by people appointed to their jobs precisely for their disdain for the whole notion of policy in the public interest. It’s won’t be pretty."
Driftglass: "Take a good look at the news, Republicans. A looooong fucking look, because at no real risk to yourself (which we know is just how you like it) you have been given a great and rare gift for which others have paid a terrible price…[I]n New Orleans you have been vouchsafed a glimpse into the future of your deepest wettest dreams."
The Green Knight: "Neo-conservative theory has run headlong into reality, and let me tell you the theory is wrong, folks. The authorities are, right before your eyes, sacrificing the lives of your fellow Americans on the altar of their vile social programming theory. Better for people to die than get help. Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile. This is your government. This is the logical outcome of all that neocon Thatcherite management-theory bullshit that has hypnotized the Western world for the past decade. This is Hell on Earth."
PZ Meyers: "It is also obvious that there is one huge, dominant factor that has been operating over decades to culminate now, in this problem and many others: the Republican party. The party of know-nothings, incompetence, greed, bigotry, religious intolerance, and irresponsibility. We now have the government they wanted, and that we allowed them to have."
Rexroth’s Daughter: "I feel some hope that this catastrophe will bring to light the need for an efficient, compassionate, progressive government, that 2006 will restore us to congressional leadership. But I am full of despair that the illumination has come once again on the backs of the poor and destitute."
Blue Girl in a Red State: "I'm dreaming that there are millions of people fed up with this administration. That finally millions of people on both the left and right are fed up with our lack of leadership. I'm dreaming that millions of people want to put a stop to our country's downward spiral."
There's more at the link.