Tonight BushCheney will attempt to demonstrate that he can rebuild New Orleans, proving to the American people that he is indeed in command, that he is the leader we need in these perilous time. In doing so, he will abandon his reluctance to direct federal expenditures to domestic purposes. According to the Washington Post, federal expenditures for post-Katrina reconstruction will exceed $200 billion, more than has been spent in the two and a half year war in Iraq. Suddenly it seems, the machinery of the federal government is up and running, pouring resources and money into the hurricane-stricken Gulf Coast.
Had such prodigious effort been devoted to preventing and minimizing Katrina’s destruction, thousands would have been spared death and many, many more would have been spared the destructive flood or at least the terror and agony of waiting days and days for relief. The media are awash with articles about levee repair and reinforcement that was cut from the Corps of Engineers budget, about incomplete or ignored disaster plans and the failure to heed clear and unambiguous warnings that Katrina was “the big one” long feared by New Orleans.
But that’s history. Now BushCheney is on the job, the “can do” executive who will make things happen. He’s looking for that bullhorn moment where he can reprise the stellar moment of his presidency rallying the nation after the 9-11 attacks. So far he’s not found it. And he won’t, simply because unlike 9-11, BushCheney’s failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina, either before or after it struck, contributed mightily to its devastation. Make no mistake about it, state and local authorities also failed but in the end, Americans have always relied on the federal government when disaster overwhelms local capabilities.
As much as he would like to demonstrate capability, it will be a hard sell. And it should be a hard sell. Why should Americans trust BushCheney or the ideologues, syncophants and incompetents who serve him to do the right thing. Whatever, BushCheney proposes will be damage control, aimed at preserving the administration and furthering its ideological goals. Stricken individuals and communities will no doubt obtain some relief but only because it serves BushCheney’s interests.
And a key interest is to further the radical Republican ideology of eviscerating government. Any and every neo-conservative idea is being offered as a form of relief. Ideas that have not gained acceptance in debate and legislation will now ride the gravy train of relief efforts. Once again, American will be treated to a neo-conservative wet dreams that serve the few and the powerful under the cover of “expanding opportunity”. Katrina relief efforts will also no doubt offer another episode of contractor feeding frenzy and fraud as money is thrown into the Gulf region.
We’ve seen this all before, with disastrous consequences. The massive tax cuts of BushCheney’s first terms destroyed hard won gains in fiscal responsibility during the Clinton Administration. The Iraq war was based on lies and misinformation. The cake walk that would bring a new birth of freedom to the Middle East has turned into a costly quagmire that has made new enemies for America. And just two weeks ago, BushCheney’s indifference to a gathering storm allowed a great city to drown
Bush Cheney said that “...to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility.” A hollow statement. "To the extent.” In other words, BushCheney does not acknowledge that the federal government failed in any way. “Take Responsibility.” Words and words only without acknowledging any mistake that will not be repeated. Once again, BushCheney hides behind words that sound good but mean nothing.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, I am hopeless. When it comes to BushCheney, hope is a fool’s errand.