Katrina - Another Bush Scandal Part 2
Ok, so many, many blogs link to a Salt Lake Tribune Story on the 1,000 (!) firefighters commandeered by FEMA for media relations purposes and thus prevented from, say, actually saving lives in New Orleans. 50 were specifically used by President Bush to act as a backdrop as he toured the devastated area. I think this story fits in well with the grounded helicopters story (see previous post).
The sadly unsurprising moral of both stories is that President Bush cares way, way more about politics than about actually helping Americans. Daily Kos goes so far as to call it:
the most fucked up thing ever done by this president, in a long list of fucked up things.....It's the most fucked up because it is easily the most crassly political act ever taken by this administration. Bush is so thoroughly a PR vessel that he can't even tour a disaster zone without his human backdrop. He's been a PR marionette for so long -- clear brush for the cameras! -- that he's become thoroughly incapable of keeping it real. God forbid he try to connect with people, get a better understanding of their efforts to cope with real disaster. That's not worth his time. Nope, it's got to be turned into a frickin' Bush campaign commercial. Everything is political. Everything.
I think this is pretty much right on. But, in my role as a blogger who attempts to provide a uniquely pragmatic political take on the news of the liberal blogosphere I have to ask: so what?
First, I strongly doubt this is "easily the most crassly political act ever taken by this administration." I'd have to award that distinction to President Bush's turning the tragedy of 9/11 into the most overused partisan weapon since "they'll raise your taxes." Second, he's been doing stuff like this for nearly 5 years, it's just hopefully been much clearer and easier to expose in New Orleans. Third and most important, thus far it always works.
The casual TV viewer doesn't read about this on Talking Points Memo, he or she just sees President Bush striding powerfully through the rubble of New Orleans flanked by 50 firefighters. Until the Dems can muster up a message machine that can successfully disseminate this kind of incredible dirt on Bush (and God knows there's enough of it), it will just fade away like the 1,000 horrible things that Bush has done that the mainstream media feels are just too "conspiracy theorist" to report on. Bush's use of these firefighters surely caused people to die in New Orleans, but almost as surely he will benefit from it politically. We need to worry about how to stop that.
We don't have to argue that we are morally superior to George Bush, we are. We should worry about hitting him where it hurts. I'm going to try to use this story to inspire me to donate to the Center for American Progress - right after I donate a little more to the Red Cross. Then I'm going to write letters to the editor to the Post and the Times (for all the good that'll do). Without a message machine of some kind, the Dems will let this kind of disgusting Potemkin leadership continue to work. And if it continues to work, the devoid-of-conscience wing of the Republican Party (aka the Karl Rove wing) will continue to do it. Bush Republicans will stop at absolutely nothing.
Every loyalist Republican on TV today will be endlessly repeating, "Blame Game, Blame Game." It will be idiotic, dishonest, and effective. The Democratic message machine that I dream of will be only one of these things. And it will have every Dem on TV repeating, "Horse Lawyer, Horse Lawyer." Nice dream.