First, I have to comment on the Broadway-style staging for the speech. Given that electricity had not yet been restored to the French Quarter by the time Bush gave his speech, the background lighting on Jackson Square was brought in for dramatic effect, likely to underscore Bush's "The Coast shall rise again" emotional theme. I also couldn't help but notice the finely manicured lawn, sans flood waters, showing the nation a picture of an unsullied New Orleans very removed from the images running around the clock in the mainstream media. A grimly determined Bush, marching in his faux-cowboy canter, sleeves rolled-up for "hard work", of which he will be little involved, giving what sounded like an overblown Chamber of Commerce address. All in all, the effect looked staged, badly, I might add, and served only to underscore the Bush Administration's fixation on appearance over results. I have to believe that even his most devoted supporters must be tiring of this dog-and-pony show by now.
On to a couple of snippets from the
We've also witnessed the kind of desperation no citizen of this great and generous nation should ever have to know -- fellow Americans calling out for food and water, vulnerable people left at the mercy of criminals who had no mercy, and the bodies of the dead lying uncovered and untended in the street.
I bolded my favorite part of this sentence. Bush has an almost fetish-like fascination with the stereotype of the "bad guy". It informs most aspects of his public policy. Clearly there was some looting and some violence in the aftermath of Katrina, but the extent of it was ridiculously overblown by the so-called Liberal Media, especially Fox News. This also plays off of his "cruel and wasteful storm" comment in the introduction of his speech; again, a paean to the "good vs. evil" comic book world view that Bush continually espouses.
Federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone, from roads and bridges to schools and water systems. Our goal is to get the work done quickly. And taxpayers expect this work to be done honestly and wisely -- so we'll have a team of inspectors general reviewing all expenditures.
Massive federal funds available for reconstruction projects? Sounds suspiciously like the Iraq war. Now, where are the no-bid contracts? Oh, here they are. Why rely on the "free market" that Republicans worship when you can have taxpayer-funded crony capitalism?
Clearly, communities will need to move decisively to change zoning laws and building codes,
Within this zone, we should provide immediate incentives for job-creating investment, tax relief for small businesses, incentives to companies that create jobs, and loans and loan guarantees for small businesses, including minority-owned enterprises, to get them up and running again.
I include these two snippets together because they are essentially both conveying the same message from President Bush to his most staunch supporters, the business owners. That message is, of course, that the Republican agenda of tax cuts and Republican regulatory support for businesses will not only continue but be augmented by the Katrina reconstruction. Bush's mention of minority-owned businesses is nothing but a red herring; a bit of empty political rhetoric meant to soothe the collective conscience of his wealthy, white base. The destruction wrought by Katrina tore away the facade of Bush's "One America" and revealed the truth of the poverty-stricken masses that the Bush Administration has ignored for the past five years.
This pledge of more tax cuts and financial support for businesses dovetails nicely into the over-arching issue with Bush's massive reconstruction plan; namely, how will the United States pay for rebuilding the Gulf Coast? Clearly, Bush is not going to roll-back any of his tax cuts or raise taxes. Republican ideologues have spent too much time, money and effort in unchaining the concept of taxation from civic responsibility to make any sort of correction to the agenda now. It's worked only too well. Americans no longer see taxes as part of their social contract; they no longer see taxes as the great equalizer among the economic classes that taxes once were. Republicans have trumpeted to the masses that taxes are a great burden, placed upon the hard-working people of America by spend-happy politicians, instead of being the responsibility of each citizen for the government services they need and want, and the American people have listened all too well.
Ironically, this same Bush Administration that decries the burden of taxation is also the most fiscally reckless in U.S. history. This leaves us with yet another Republican administration with runaway federal debt and budget deficits, which will only grow worse as the reconstruction costs rise. This will result in rising debt carrying costs for a debt-saturated populace already feeling the sting of exploding energy costs and stagnant wages. It's past time for some fiscal responsibility from the Republican leadership; the burden of paying for the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast should not rest on the shoulders of the working class while the wealthy continue to receive massive tax relief. That is unfair and un-American!
In the Katrina reconstruction, the Bush Administration demonstrates once again its belief that ideology and political gain trump the needs of the country. Bush has been absent time and again when leadership has been called for and this latest boondoggle will, sadly, be no different.