23-Sep-05. Mother Nature seems to have taken pity on poor George W and has given him a do-over on disaster response. When Katrina hit, W went on his oblivious way, vacationing at the ranch in Crawford, speechifying to his base, and raising funds in California.
His administration stood impotently on the sidelines as the Gulf Coast struggled and New Orleans drowned. Finally, some of the scales were dislodged from Americans' eyes — yea, even Republicans! — and W's approval ratings sank to a new low while his disapproval ratings soared.
Georgie-Come-Lately then launched a public relations campaign to show that he cared and that he was in charge. He became a regular visitor to the gulf, staging photo-ops with black people, as long as they weren't angry or truly desperate. He converted New Orleans' St. Louis Cathedral to an eerily-lit backdrop for a speech to the nation in which he promised New Orleans would rise again amid a shower of money, source unspecified. W said the recovery would "cost what it will cost" and the federal government would stay "as long as it takes" to complete the job. (In the context of what other disaster have we heard this same stock phrase used? Hmmm.) He offered no clue where the money would come from. Of course he didn't, he doesn't have a clue.
When Katrina hit New Orleans, some of the religious lunatics said that it was revenge of the unborn on the abortion clinics operating in New Orleans, proven, they said, by the likeness of a fetus that they professed to see in the radar images of Katrina.
Track of hurricane Rita
Enter hurricane Rita. As she tracked into the Gulf, growing her righteous wrath to Category 5 strength, she threaded very carefully between Cuba and Key West, between the evil communist dictatorship and the homosexual haven. Instead, she took dead aim at Galveston, Texas. Whatever will the lunatic fringe see in that pattern? Could it be that God is punishing the reddest of the red states?
And by the way, did you hear any weather report or newscast that even mentioned the effects of Rita on Cuba? Of course you didn't. Only things within the US borders exist.
With the oil industry and the state of Texas threatened, the White House has sprung into all-disaster, all-W, all-the-time mode. There's W making heartfelt pleas to those in Rita's path to heed the warnings to evacuate. There's W mobilizing and prepositioning FEMA and the defense department to help out. There's W flying to Texas to check on preparedness. There's W making plans to monitor the storm from the US Northern Command headquarters in Colorado.
We should not be surprised to see W elbowing Anderson Cooper out of the way to report on the storm for CNN. Can't you just hear Wolf Blitzer in his Situation Room? "Can you give us a flavor, Mr President, of what it's like there on the Gulf Coast as Rita, hurricane Rita, a powerful, destructive hurricane, approaches landfall on the Gulf Coast near the border of Texas and Louisiana, there on the Gulf Coast of the United States?"
And when it's all over, we should not be surprised to see W addressing the nation with a lighted oil rig in the background, reassuring us that the government will spend what it takes for as long as it takes to bring the oil industry back so we can continue to drive our SUVs without inconvenience or second thought. Of course, he will also announce that Halliburton will be in charge of the reconstruction, having been granted this plum contract without even the pretense of making a bid for the job.
I wonder, can we also expect to see W at a podium announcing that former presidents Clinton and Bush will be heading up yet another hurricane fund-raising campaign?
It's a nice try, George, but you screwed up once too often. The truth is now obvious:
Tom Toles (Click image to enlarge)