Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dude Swears He's Reading

Everything except PDBs.

In an interview on the Upper Ninth Ward’s desolate North Dorgenois Street, the president told NBC’s Brian Williams that, besides Camus, he had recently read a book on the Battle of New Orleans and “three Shakespeares.” A White House aide said one of them was “Hamlet.”

What could be more fitting? A prince who dithers instead of acting and then acts precipitously at the wrong moment, not paying attention when someone vulnerable drowns.

The president bristled when the anchor asked about criticism that his inept response had to do with a “patrician upbringing” and about whether he was asking the country to sacrifice enough. “Americans are sacrificing,” he said. “We pay a lot of taxes.”

Roads, schools and families are falling apart, but that doesn't count, not paying taxes that improve society does.

The last two days in Mississippi and New Orleans were W.’s play within the play. He took the role of the empathetic and engaged chief executive, rallying resources to save the Gulf Coast, even as the larger lens showed a sad picture of American communities that are still decrepit and hurting, while the Bush administration’s billions flow to reconstructing — or rather not reconstructing — Iraq.

You longed for this Crawford Hamlet to just go out there and say, “This just isn’t good enough.”

Instead, he gritted his teeth and put on his blandly optimistic cheerleader-in-chief role and talked about restoring “the soul’’ of New Orleans. It always makes me nervous when W. does soul talk.

Me too. Probably because he doesn't have one.

He was brazen enough to pose as the man of action even in a city ruined by his initial and continuing inaction. “I’ve been on the levees,’’ he told a crowd at a high school here yesterday. “I’ve seen these good folks working.’’

He spoke to a small number of residents in the boiling sun before the one house that had been tidily restored in a blighted neighborhood in Biloxi. Outside the TV frame, there was a toilet on its side in the yard of a gutted house. On one fence spoke there was a child’s abandoned stuffed toy.

At a stop at a building company in Gulfport, Miss., he chirped biblically: “There will be a momentum, momentum will be gathered. Houses will begat jobs, jobs will begat houses.”

Beget. Maybe he should read something a little more informative, like a dictionary.

Douglas Brinkley, the New Orleans writer who recounted the history of the trellis of failure, Republican and Democratic, federal, state and local, in “The Great Deluge,’’ noted that Mr. Bush was merely “sweating bullets trying to get the visit over with.”

“In the Republican playbook, Katrina’s a loser,’’ he said.

Try being a former resident of the Lower Ninth Ward.

Mr. Bush tells journalists he has been reading prodigiously, 53 books so far this year, with three bios of George Washington, two of Lincoln and one of Mao. He seems more attuned to his place in history and yet he doesn’t really seem to get that his presidency will be defined by rushing into one place too fast and not rushing into another fast enough.

Basic history reading that most people do before high school, but he's the President so it doesn't matter if he plays catch-up, does it?.

He has let Dick Cheney and Rummy launch Category 5 attacks on critics of the war. Darth Vader reiterated his nutty pre-emption policy, and Rummy compared critics of Iraq to Chamberlains who appeased Hitler, noting that “once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism.”

Somebody needs to corner the defense chief and explain that it’s not that we don’t want to fight terrorism, it’s that we want to do it efficiently and effectively. Why is it necessary to scare the country, make false connections between an ill-conceived war and fighting terror, and demonize critics with outrageously careless historical references to Hitler and fascism?

Because if Americans aren't scared they might notice that the country they thought they lived in has been replaced with an dictatorial replica. And a bad one at that.

1 comment:

  1. I heard just a little of Bush's speeches regarding the the aftermath of Katrina and it made me shake my head, because that man does not give a crap, the reporters questions about "patrician" was dead on; Bush is not the common man he pretends to be, he is not a President either just the pretender in chief.