Tags: George | Bush's | Monica

George Bush's Monica

Tuesday, 06 September 2005 12:00 AM

He's got way too much explaining, justifying and rebuilding to do, and half the country and the entire press corps now feel emboldened to force him to do that and nothing else. Which is all it takes to paralyze an administration. And he has no one to blame for that but himself.

Last Tuesday, as the water was rising in New Orleans, long after the disaster's magnitude had become clear, the president took a break from his vacation to go to Coronado, the beautiful isle off San Diego, where he gave a speech about democracy in Iraq that did not mention the fact that his own fellow citizens were drowning as he spoke.

For the brain dead Terri Schiavo, he flew back to sign special legislation. But not for the poor black people of New Orleans. Not until the press literally shamed him into it.

Would he have waited so long if the phones had been ringing off the hooks because his friends' relatives were the ones who couldn't be found, instead of nameless, faceless poor people who no one he even remotely knows knows?

Discrimination doesn't work consciously anymore. No one sits down and says, "Let's not send in the National Guard because it's poor black people in New Orleans." But if that kind of hell had been heading to Fort Lauderdale, don't you think Jeb would have called, and money people, and political supporters, and friends of family – everyone saying you've got to do something – old-timers, anyone who knew someone who could get to someone who could get to him ...

Precisely the sort of people who don't live in the worst-hit wards of New Orleans. No one called. No one got through.

It's still discrimination, even if you don't mean to be doing it. That is a concept most people don't understand. If you respond faster, or prefer, people like you (whether that means white people or males or Republicans or whatever), even if you do it totally unconsciously, or because people around you push harder, then the experience for the folks who don't get help or don't get picked is that their race or their gender cost them – in other words, discrimination.

Do those people waiting day after day to be rescued know that they are treated that way because they are poor and black – that other people would have found a way to someone to get help by now?

The polls going into the weekend showed that the country had reverted to its usual partisan split – 47 percent to 46 percent – in assessing the president's response to the hurricane. That isn't a reflection of what has been accomplished on the ground, but the fact that politics has clearly taken over, with good reason. So Republicans are coming out to support their president, whatever they think of his actual performance, while Democrats have the easier job right now of slamming him.

Hillary Clinton has already proposed a "9/11-type commission" to investigate what went wrong. That might actually be better for the president if it stopped every committee in Congress from holding its own hearings, which is starting right now as part of the relief process. After a Cabinet meeting today, the president announced that he would lead the investigation into what went wrong – but until he takes responsibility and admits that things did indeed go very wrong, no one will give an investigation lead by the administration of itself much credence.

Certainly not the press.

They saw the dead bodies. They know the cost of delay and indifference. They are going to insist that the president accept responsibility that this country did not do better by its own citizens.

Until he admits that, they won't let go. That is his equivalent of carnal knowledge, of admitting to sex with Monica – and, in real life, measured in lives lost, it is a far more serious sin.

COPYRIGHT 2005 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

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He's got way too much explaining, justifying and rebuilding to do, and half the country and the entire press corps now feel emboldened to force him to do that and nothing else. Which is all it takes to paralyze an administration. And he has no one to blame for that but...
George,Bush's,Monica
663
2005-00-06
Tuesday, 06 September 2005 12:00 AM
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