As the brackish poisonous flood waters finally recede under the aid of man-made pumps in New Orleans, many things are becoming clearer (note: this will be the most overused opening line for Op-Ed pieces in the next week. Let's count how many times we see it. The over-under is 28.) The first slowly revealing truth is that the Bush administration will get away with their absolutely pathetic and incompetent response to this disaster.
Two days before Katrina hit ground, me and some friends were talking at work about how vulnerable New Orleans is and how this hurricane could really devastate the city. Somehow we, a bunch of Hollywood flunkies on the set of a silly comedy, knew this and the Bush administration did not.
It was the same with Bin Laden. After the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole I remember sitting with friends in a New York bar talking about the rise of the extremist threat in the Middle East and wondering if they would attack us here. And, keep in mind, Bush went to Yale and I went to Temple University. I still watch Sponge Bob with my five-year-old daughter and laugh heartily at it. Dick Cheney does not watch Sponge Bob. Though Condi did watch Spamalot.
So what were they doing that a bunch of dudes on a movie set knew this was coming and they did not? Obviously we're not that smart and the truth is half the country was having the same conversation. So what the frig? It's a really, really important question. Yet once again forty percent of the country calls these queries disgusting or unpatriotic. Maybe the sound of the word "query" makes them feel sexually uncomfortable.
Fine, then why do people get mad when legitimate questions are asked? As though critical analysis of a government response to a disaster were the equivalent of running a steam engine fueled by burning flags to power a giant robotic middle finger that slowly rises to greet the Daughters of the American Revolution's next lunch meeting (Wow. Come to think of it, that sounds awesome. Is there anyone out there that wants to finance this?).
So as it sinks in that we have some really stubborn people in this country who would rather trade not admitting they were wrong in supporting Bush for oh, I don't know, a whole damn city, we must brace ourselves for the next three years. Because there are certain images and happenings that we will just have to get used to so long as Bush and the modern Republican Party are in power.
1. Turning on the TV and seeing Sheryl Crow singing a song with an 800-number on the bottom of the screen.
Now I personally don't want to see this anymore but so long as Bush is in power we will continue to do things like cut the FEMA budget to finance cutting the estate tax or hugely expensive pointless wars. So please Sheryl, keep some extra strings in your guitar case. Because the Dupont family wants their kids to inherit $650 million instead of 400 million, we'll need you and Emmylou Harris or Paul Simon to keep America giving. And bless you for it. But after a few more years of this, one can't help but wonder if Ms. Crow will stop answering the phone. We could turn on the TV and see Don Johnson and Clay Aiken raising money to pay the property taxes on the Capitol building.
2. Resignation speeches from scapegoated lackeys.
George Tenet bit the bullet over 9/11 and now Michael Brown has done the same. He did nothing to change the perception that he was not tuned into the significance of this event by saying that he was going to get a "Mexican meal and a good stiff Margarita" after being reassigned. And then, just like his current boss, he blamed the press for his troubles. Who will take the fall for Bush's next total failure as a leader? The White House floor buffer? Or maybe someone even more irrelevant -- like Congressional Democrats.
3. Newscasters saying "this is the greatest tragedy in the history of our great nation."
During the Clinton administration, we had zero "greatest tragedy" moments. Heck, during Bush Sr, Reagan and Ford's tenures we had zero. We had bad times but no "this is a time we shall never stop mourning" incidents. Bush Jr has already had two. So God forbid, according to the math we have one more coming. Unless of course these lazy arrogant corporate shills actually start reading government agency reports that aren't written by GE and Merck.
4. The definition of "liberal" getting broader and broader.
A little while back the corporate right redefined liberal to mean those who want to give handouts to lazy people, create drive-thru abortion clinics and dismantle the military in favor of mime troops. Okay, fine. That has now become the accepted definition. Well done. But of late I've noticed that liberal now means anyone who disagrees in any way with how the Bush White House is leading our nation. So according to recent polls 61% of our nation are now whining liberals. Why does it feel like this will end like an old Twilight Zone episode with W under his desk, covered in sweat, whimpering "There's liberals everywhere...there's liberals in my salad...in my shoes! Liberals!!!"? When men like Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neil fall under the heading of liberal you know the label has run out of gas.
5. And speaking of gas: Crazy ups and downs in gas prices.
Go look at the stock prices for oil companies over the last five years. Then go buy a horse or a Ginger.
So as we go into the last three years of the disaster that is the Bush administration, I hope those that still support him are at least asking some questions. Not a ton but just a few. Like, "was it worth not having gay marriage in exchange for the very stability of our whole country?" Or "How will I spend that three hundred dollar Bush tax break when the local Target is under water and/or too far away to drive to because gas costs twenty dollars a gallon?" But then if you ask these questions you might then become a whining liberal -- so, on second thought, don't risk it for the next three years.