Louisiana’s Governor Blanco has said quite appropriately that “…politics has no place in any disaster.” She was responding to a remark made by the president on his visit to California, as wild fires raged there displacing residents and destroying homes, that “It makes a significant difference when you have somebody in the state house willing to take the lead.”
Shocking isn’t it, at a time when the destruction of land and property and terrible human distress should be the focus of presidential concern, that this man would use the moment to take a slap at Governor Blanco who was in office when Katrina hit her state with such devastating results. His intention was of course to excuse his lack of involvement and inadequate federal response to the special conditions in New Orleans and the region at the time. Never mind that Governor Blanco wrote him days before the hurricane hit, that state equipment and manpower would be insufficient to meet the needs of localities and that federal support would be needed. Her appeal went unheeded, and significant response time was lost until well after the hurricane’s deadly effect became apparent.
Moreover, the situations, the general populations, the income levels and the escape routes available in the two regions defy comparison. Those conditions are either lost on or ignored by a president who seems incapable of making distinctions and always falls back on political non sequiturs that make sense only to the most partisan observers. Tony Snow, the president’s former press secretary, has described Bush as a leader, but leadership without a cogent thought process backing it up is a dangerous and misleading modus operandi as we have learned to our sorrow over the past six years.
What Blanco and others don’t always grasp, however, is that with this administration it is always “about politics”. There is no issue, no event, no human condition that cannot be sucked into the ineffectual, ill-conceived, self-serving political vortex that is the Bush way of doing business. It is difficult to imagine policies more damaging to the nation’s health than the ones enabled by his supporters during this president’s term of office. And even now with Democratic control of both houses of Congress, political maneuvering has made it all but impossible to effect changes to mitigate some of the damage done. Senator Mitch McConnell made it quite clear as the new Congress was seated that he meant to lead his Republican minority in blocking legislation by the new majority regardless of what it was.
And still, Republicans can be heard decrying the habit of Democrats to “tax and spend” despite the fact that this White House pushed through a drug-prescription bill that creates a huge federal funding burden, is waging a war that lacks adequate funding while failing to focus adequate attention on the needs of people here at home. By continuing to send Congress war-time supplemental spending requests, thereby removing these monies from the regular budgeting process, this White House maintains the fiction it is addressing the deficit. And by refusing to raise taxes to fund the war it is clear that, while it may not tax and spend, its habit of borrowing and spending has devastating implications for the future of the economy and indeed national security. What leverage does the US have in terms of its relations with China, for example, when that country holds the bulk of our IOUs?
Domestically, Republicans in Congress insist their resistance to expanding the SCHIP program is a principled stand in support of maintaining private insurance rather than expanding a federal subsidy. But in reality, it always seems the insurance industry reaps the benefit of keeping medical plans in private hands while ordinary folks must pay whatever premiums their insurer deems appropriate and struggle to meet hefty deductibles before coverage takes affect.
And what political rationale best describes the president’s request for a huge infusion of dollars to help the Mexican government with its anti-drug program? There must be a loose thread somewhere that would help explain why American taxpayer funds should be allocated for such a cause. As a general rule there’s always something insidious behind the president’s special requests and some explanation no matter how ridiculous to explain away behavior that fails to address the most pressing of needs and issues, whether it is defying the preponderance of scientific opinion, mis-judging the effects of foreign policy gaffs, or creating programs of limited range that fail to serve the interests of ordinary Americans.
In recent days my personal favorite is the observation made my Dana Perrino, the president’s current press secretary, who opined at a press conference that the warming of the planet wasn’t always a bad thing. After all she said cold climate conditions often produced serious health conditions that might be alleviated if warmer times prevailed.
Ah the Bush administration and its explainers always at the ready with a silver lining except when they’re pushing the notion of mushroom clouds. So, Governor Blanco, there is no hope after all that this White House will ever find a disaster or anything else that doesn’t lend itself to its narrow political overview.

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