whines Pravda’s Terry Neal in one of the rag’s boilplate on-line “chats.”
Hey we know it’s not your job, Terry. At the moment it’s Peter Baker’s :
Polish that apple! Polish that Apple!
And that, of course, is the real tragedy for the likes of Baker. After all, what this disaster is really about has been obvious for quite some time .
And that’s why BushCo operatives have been quick to spring into action to change the subject — as in this excerpt from Terry’s “chat”:
Terry Neal: I’m not sure you are correct about that. Look, I’m not an engineer, but I know that the Army Corps of Engineers has been saying for years that the levees should be and can be strengthened to handle at least a category 4 storm, I believe.
In an excellent column yesterday, AP political reporter Ron Fournier noted that Congress just pushed through, and Bush signed a $284 billion highway bill that included more than 6,000 pork barrel projects for lawmakers. Among them was $231 million for a bridge to an uninhabited island in Alaska. Fournier noted that that was more than double the $105 million that Army Corps of Engineers sought for improvements hurricane and flood improvements for New Orleans.
The White House slashed the request to $40 million and the Congress finally approved $42 million.
How the heck can the government justify this? That is a totally legitimate question to ask of the nation’s elected leaders, I think. That what democracy is about.
And it would be if this were a democracy — which it most assuredly isn’t. That’s where Peter Baker comes in, to reminding us that it’s all essentially theater.
“This is going to be a difficult road,” Bush said, flanked by Cabinet secretaries, and he rattled off statistics to illustrate all the federal government is doing to help. “The challenges that we face on the ground are unprecedented. But there’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to succeed.”
The words echoed the language Bush used through much of his August vacation whenever he emerged from the ranch to defend his handling of the Iraq war, and it reflected his leadership style. In times of calamity, he seeks to project an air of undiminished confidence regardless of the dark circumstances. He fashions himself a take-charge leader who thrives at making decisions that he never second-guesses even if they do not turn out the way he imagined them.
Yes my fellow citizens (I trust you won’t mind my taking such a familiar tone), taking action is a secondary concern. The important thing is for the President to “project an image.”
See? This is Our Free Press at work. Rather than bore you with facts (“Stupid Things,” as the sainted Ronald Reagan memorably noted,) a real reporter rushes to his nearest University and, armed with info supplied by his favorite “Think Tank,” looks for a suitable “scholar” to provide the right “information”
But if Bush will be judged by his response in the weeks ahead, aides acknowledged that he is constrained by limited options. He decided Wednesday to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which could hold down the increase in gas prices marginally, but other than monitoring for price gouging, a senior White House official said, there is little else Bush can do.
Oh I can think of a few things he can do.
And I’m sure you can as well
The president used his trip back from Texas to get a sneak preview, observing the arc of devastation from aboard Air Force One en route to Washington. Col. Mark Tillman, the chief pilot, took the plane down from its cruising altitude of 29,000 feet and skimmed just 1,700 feet above the ground at one point.
“It’s devastating,” Bush told aides as he flew over New Orleans. “It’s got to be doubly devastating on the ground.”
Of course what Bush really said was “I’m wiped out,” before he passed out, as he so often does — frequently hitting his head on the furniture in the process. Lucky for him Air Force One is properly cushioned.
Elsewhere there’s been much talk of the New York Times suddenly discovering its cajones :
Lovely. But until Elizabeth Bumiller is fired and the relentless pimping for Judy Miller ceases, there’s no reasons to believe this editorial is anything more than a blip on the radar.
And if things get too hot they can always hire Deb Saunders for “balance” — Tierney being such a “leftist”and all
Or, that failing, they could take a “middle of the road” route:
The CBS flak was addressing recent unscripted outbursts of genuine human feeling from such unlikely likes as Leslie Blitzer and Tim-Mah. Thank goodness we can still count on Cokie.
Or like Anderson Cooper, so “unprofessional” in his distress.
And this from a man who saw his own emotionally-troubled brother leap to his death.
Hey, maybe that should have disqualified Coop from becoming a reporter in the first place. He “feels” too much. And what’s worse, thinks about things.
By contrast Tim Rutten is wise to lurking fourth estate dangers:
Can I get a “No shit, Sherlock!” ?
Well that didn’t happen here.
Oh I’m sure editors everywhere did their level best to squeeze Natalee Holloway into this story somehow.
The Times-Picayune, in fact, won numerous awards for John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein’s superbly conceived and executed five-part series — that’s right, five-part
“Well hooray for the Bulldog,” as Dorothy Commingore once quipped
Evidently Dubbya didn’t read the Times-Picayune. Nor did he pay attention to any of the other information about asituation that clearly could have been averted had action been taken.
The obsequious fealty of the fourth estate to BushCo, ever-so-cleverly overlooked.
Yes, Sondheim (as usual) said it best:
“What a wonder is a gun!
What a versatile invention!
First of all when you’ve a gun —
Everybody pays attention
When you think what must be done
Think of all that it can do.”
What’s the matter folks? Don’t you like musical comedy?
Now where did I put that gun?