Tour De Farce: Bush Heads South

Plans to dip his toe in New Orleans


Kid stuff: Above, George W. Bush splish-splashing in 1949 in his backyard washtub in Midland, Texas. Below, a New Orleans man carries a baby through flooded streets near the Superdome on August 31, 2005.
Airman Jeremy L. Grisham/U.S. Navy

Undeterred by the fact that Trent Lott's porch is sadly still not rebuilt after suffering crippling damage from Hurricane Katrina, George W. Bush is making another visit to the Gulf Coast.

This time, the president is expected to actually set foot in New Orleans, sometime tomorrow.

Bush kicked off the start of the full slate of NFL regular-season games today by observing a moment of silence on the hapless anniversary of 9/11. The standard AP story about his activities today notes:

    As he has every year since the terrorist attacks, Bush observed a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. EDT, the exact minute in 2001 when hijackers smashed the first passenger jet into the World Trade Center.

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This may be the fourth anniversary of 9/11, but this is the fifth straight year that Bush has been struck dumb at 8:46 a.m. (or thereabouts) on September 11.

On the actual morning of the attacks on New York City, the president stayed frozen in his chair, reading "The Pet Goat" with a bunch of Florida kids — even after his aide Andy Card whispered to him that bad shit was happening.

The Toledo Blade, like many other mainstream news outlets, is putting this shrimp on the barbie, as well it might, after the Iraq debacle and now the non-response to Hurricane Katrina. This morning, the Blade opined in "Compassionate Conservatives?":

    President Bush raised eyebrows on his first visit to the Gulf Coast when, instead of just sympathizing with the thousands of mostly poor and black storm victims, he lamented the fact that Sen. Trent Lott’s vacation home on the coast was lost, but was confident the Mississippi Republican would rebuild.

    "Out of the rubble of Trent Lott’s house — he’s lost his entire house — there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch," said Mr. Bush with a chuckle as he stood in an airplane hangar in Mobile, Ala.

    On the same initial foray to a region of the country drowning in abandonment after the catastrophic hurricane, the President, apparently oblivious to the woefully inadequate federal emergency response, heaped praise on FEMA chief Michael Brown with a cheery "Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job."

Thankfully, Brown is back in Washington, after giving us Okies the bad name that we sometimes deserve.

Even better is that the fiesty Black Commentator has returned from its summer hiatus, and my former colleague Thulani Davis brings her graceful, understated style to bear on the hurricane's aftermath.

Jesse Jackson took the expected — but undeserved — criticism by going to New Orleans and talking about "slave ships."

For Davis, Jackson's comments captured the racial component of the misery perfectly — I thought they were just fine too. Davis knows all about Trent Lott (though not his porch) and about what Mississippi's black people have to put up with when it comes to fighting for economic rights. No wonder she focuses in "Unbearable Crime on the Mississippi" on the likely grim future for many of the Gulf Coast's black citizens as New Orleans, for example, gets rebuilt in a way that, like the initial rescue efforts, marginalized them:

    There is now what is called the Katrina Diaspora. This diaspora of people without resources puts the restoration of families and community at risk, and in the case of New Orleans' black community, probably makes that impossible.

    Even people who own land there are going to be in deep trouble trying to hold onto it when the real estate boondoggle gets in the courts. I'm afraid we'll be reading a lot of stupid crap about how they couldn't be found, taxes were owed, etc. as in times past throughout the South. That's why I hope Jesse gets someone to bring people like Congressman Bennie Thompson into the fold, as he is familiar with the commission that had to be set up in the Delta because people are still trying to get back land stolen in the 1930s. And the developers are probably asking for eminent domain to be declared even as I'm typing.

When Bush finally gets to kick back on Lott's new porch, maybe they can swap stories about Lott's hero, Strom Thurmond. Maybe Lott will tell the dumb Dubya that Thurmond renounced segregationism and didn't even say "nigra" very often. Thurmond's reputed remorse later in life for his racist style is a fabrication, by the way, as Slate's Timothy Noah ably pointed out back in December 2002. That was just after the Senate Majority Leader was caught being wistful:

    I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.

I'm sure none of that'll be on Bush's conscious mind as he tours New Orleans tomorrow. In fact, there's likely to be absolutely nothing on this president's mind, except the prospect of more hugs from the common people.

The question is what other people are thinking. Will anyone do more than just carp at the disastrous Bush regime? There's still never been a full-fledged investigation in Congress of the regime's conduct regarding either 9/11 or Iraq. What makes anyone think there will be accountability for the Bush krewe's abysmal handling of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy?

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