Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Sorry, My Bad

You hardly have to be a critic of the President, as I am, to discern that he's not a man who takes responsibility for things. Amid the growing concern and anger over the slow rescue response after Katrina, for instance, the conservative message machine has already settled on its characteristically simple slogan, which it will now repeat ad infinitum: this time, it's "state and local." As in, state and local governments and agencies are the ones you should blame, not the President or his party. And of course Karl Rove's spinmeister spin, which is "Let's help the victims now and point fingers later."

Don't take my word for it. Just be on the lookout for these terms over the next few days and weeks. I'm betting you'll hear it more than a few times. I've already heard eight different individuals use the standard-issue "point fingers later" line.

There is, of course, one way to make absolutely sure that you're not blamed: head the "investigation" yourself. Every parent knows the great value of deferring a decision. "We'll talk about it later" or "I'll decide tomorrow" are crucial strategies for dealing with insistent childish demands. On the national political scene, the equivalent is, of course, the "investigation." When anger flares or criticisms become insistent, the solution is often to launch an investigation. You can then refuse to talk about it because it's an "ongoing investigation," and you can claim to be doing something about it even when, really, you're not.

So anyway, apparently George W. Bush himself--always one to cut to the core truth of issues regardless of the political consequences, as we all know--will head the "investigation" of the response to Katrina.

Here are two possible potential conclusions I can think of:

"The problems occurred because I cut the legs off FEMA and slashed funding for flood control, and appointed one of my incompetent cronies to head FEMA. Sorry, my bad."

"There was no way to foresee the disaster; response was mainly a problem on the state and local levels; as soon as I became aware of the problem, I launched an investigation."

We should really save the guy the trouble. (He's already cut his five-week vacation short by a few days. How much more can one President sacrifice?) Why even have an investigation, when it's all but certain from the start what the outcome is going to be?

Don't even bother.

The Quotidian Meander

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