Friday, September 02, 2005

Bush Goes for the Photo-Op

There is something surreal about listening to CNN reporters, MSNBC reporters, ABC reporters asking questions of officials that I would ask, with the same incredulous horrified sound in their voices that I have in mine.

There is a palpable rise in consciousness at the moment because the photographs coming from the superdome and convention center, the streets of New Orleans and Mississippi demonstrate in absolute terms our staggering ill-preparedness for a homeland catastrophe. These images are as grossly unsettling as photos from Abu Ghraib, except instead of torture we see people being subjected to abject neglect and devastating privations. Yet, isn't it a kind of torture to be forced to go without food and water for days, to be compelled to live in a sea of human shit and piss of 25,000 people, to have no place to hide from rapist, thieves, and thugs. These photos and news stories are not secret. They are not being surreptitiously leaked to us. This is just the news out of New Orleans. This is the fruition of conservative politics brought to its logical and predictable conclusion.

There is something deeply incongruous about watching George Bush trying to look interested, like a man with compassion. I left this comment over at Staying Alive the other day. I did at first think the President had a second My Pet Goat moment, but I'm starting to think it feels more like Karla Fay Tucker redux. The guitar-playing / posing with warships while a city was drowning is what finally drove home how he mindlessly mocks the helpless. Somehow, even the dead and dying don't elicit what would be considered by any standard a response worthy of a human being. His feigned interest now is merely a vulgarity.

I am conflicted. I feel some hope that this catastrophe will bring to light the need for an efficient, compassionate, progressive government, that 2006 will restore us to congressional leadership. But I am full of despair that the illumination has come once again on the backs of the poor and destitute.

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