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Compassionate Conservatism by Barbara Bush

uncalled for interview produced uncalled for remark

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, September 07, 2005.

Is there anyone who still thinks Our President is competent? His unrehearsed appearances before microphones of late, at press conferences for which he could not be coached, have seemed like outtakes from Firesign Theatre. Clueless, grammarless, no emotional connection or understanding, no ability to conclude whatever neurological synapse is being touted as thought this week, and absolutely no action at all till it was drawn to his attention that he was being hurt politically.

In any normal circumstance, New Orleans Mayor Nagin would be catching hell from around the world for his bizarre and borderline incompetent preparation and implementation. But he looks and sounds like, well, Rudolph Giuliani compared to the Bush bozos.

In New Orleans, people are refusing to obey a mandatory evacuation order of Mayor Nagin’s. It is estimated there are about ten thousand people still in New Orleans who probably will stay if they can get away with it, some because they’re criminals, some because they’re old, scared, lazy, or have no means to leave, no place to go. There are multiple issues here. If there is another hurricane or even a severe prolonged afternoon shower, New Orleans could flood again, and these people could drown, and maybe assure that rescuers will die trying to save them. That would not be viewed favorably, and given we’ve just reached the halfway mark on this hurricane season, it isn’t improbable.

But if there is no further meteorological horror to come this season, and if the water is pumped out significantly, and if power is turned back on, wouldn’t the public good be enhanced by having people in their homes, cleaning up? Well, what about all the disease and poison about in New Orleans’ fetid standing water? A serious concern, but would it cost more to evacuate these ten thousand people or to provide health and care in New Orleans for those who choose to stay? I have no clue, but I suspect it would be cheaper, safer, and healthier to have people in the city than in cramped shelters where disease is already making a serious incursion. TB, cholera, dysentery, West Nile, Popping-Postule Jumping NaNa Disease and god knows what else is on the menu this year. And don’t forget bird flu, the new avian horror that has spread across Eurasia from China to Norway.

In any case, taking people from homes at gunpoint where they have food and clothing and soon, hopefully, electricity and flowing if not potable water, is a PR disaster. I hope it isn’t done, because Texas can’t take any more.

At least according to the clearly clueless former First Lady Barbara Bush, who – if her recent radio interview is any indication - seems to think that the expressions of gratitude from traumatized New Orleans refugees is proof that living in the Astrodome with Texas hospitality is a real treat for them, since they’re underprivileged anyway. A virtual afternoon at Six Flags, in her mind, and of course they won’t want to leave. Between all the brown people from Mexico and all the black people from New Orleans, the tone of big hair, big hat Texas will simply go to the dogs of the refugees, won’t it, Bar? And who knows what those dogs have been eating on the streets of New Orleans.

However, I have to say I cannot imagine why anyone would interview Barbara Bush on any topic not related to her late Springer Spaniel. She’s eighty, and old people say stuff not fully risen to the yeast, and I object to her being trotted out. But the GOP has spin-doctors out the wazoo, and if they vetted it, they should live with it. And “it” is compassionate conservatism in a nutshell: ignorant, hypocritical, self-serving.

The mandatory evacuation of the City has gone over like a pregnant pole-vaulter with the local police, who’d be the ones to do it, because their chief has said that this edict would have to be enforced after they rescued those who wished to be. In any case, the Chief correctly pointed out that such an assignment would be a real morale killer, and that analysis by the standards of a Police Department deserted by about a third of its number, and whose public spokesman was one of two suicides in the ranks last week.

It has been mentioned that a Republican Party that swung into action and returned from vacations to inflict Terry Schiavo’s agony on the nation to succor the dangerous Christian Right probably had the time and ability to do the same for the poor of New Orleans. It’s been pointed out that the people in the Superdome could have been taken out by large ships from a nearby wharf on the river, and that school buses existed for the city to remove them even earlier. Military units have complained they aren’t allowed to rescue people in the course of delivering supplies. Some have torn off their FEMA patches. Nobody can explain why our incredibly competent military wasn’t allowed to make drops of water, food, and supplies to one of our own cities, or why supporting national infrastructure in general is seen as so expensive compared to the occasional and inevitable Katrinas.