Wednesday, September 21, 2005

How Katrina's Single-Handedly Changing Politics

It's been three weeks since Hurricane Katrina unleashed her wrath on the Gulf, killing 1000 residents of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, as well as wreaking utter destruction on the region. Some call it the worst natural disaster ever, depending upon how one measures such things. Surely, it will remain--alongside the great San Francisco earthquake of 1908; Pearl Harbor; the Kennedy assassination; and the 9-11 terrorist attacks--as one of the most infamous, tragic and memorable events in modern American history. But its true legacy might just be how it's single-handedly changing the political landscape in our country today.

For example, can you name the author who made this statement following President Bush's address to the nation last Thursday where he outlined his reconstruction plan?: "I could not have been prouder of the president... Mr. President, I am ready for duty. Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work." That was Donna Brazile, crackerjack Democratic Strategist and campaign manager to Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. Or how about the following quote regarding Bush's persistent naming of under-qualified cronies to major security posts: "The Bush administration has barely rebounded from the resignation of horse-show organizer Michael 'Heck of a job' Brown from FEMA, and yet is pushing forward with the nomination of another inexperienced bureaucrat to a key post at the Department of Homeland Security. If this is an example of Karl Rove's political genius, get him some stupid pills quick." James Carville you say? Guess again. Try conservative syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin. She was writing about Bush's imminent appointment of Julie Myers--daughter of Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers and wife of Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff's chief of staff--to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), an area in which she has no experience whatsoever.

What's more, Republicans on the hill are turning against Bush and each other over the administration's colossal planning, rescue and relief failures, as well as the subsequent out-of-control spending on reconstruction. Katrina has also served to quite effectively expose the Bushies' unprecedented ineptitude on a number of domestic fronts, as well as cast new light on the financial and military wastefulness of the Iraq war. Lastly, what the hurricane has also done is wake up the media, which has been asleep at the wheel since Bush took office in 2001. It's found its conscious and its spine, and is now relishing in vilifying Bush at every turn. The gloves are off, and the teflon has melted.

So what on earth is going on here? It's simple. The storm unleashed more than Mother Nature's fury. It's served to uncage 5 1/2 years of pent up passion, anger and frustration on both sides of the aisle. But more important, it's causing politicians and strategists to begin to think practically rather than engage in non-stop partisan chicanery. Donna Brazile? She's a New Orleans native, and the human suffering there clearly has taken her beyond party politics. Michelle Malkin? She's an American just like us, and perhaps she's sick and tired--and scared--of seeing how little this administration has done and is doing do truly protect us.

Furthermore, the GOP has come to the stark realization that Bush is a lame duck, and if it's ever going to retain power in the '06 mid-terms and in '08, it needs to begin distancing itself from the president, his plummeting poll numbers, and America's lack of faith in his leadership. The country is headed in the wrong direction, voters say, and Republican lawmakers don't want to get swept up in that potentially disastrous wave of negativity.

For Bush, Katrina's dubious distinction is that it's the one event that's forced him to finally accept responsibility--albeit half-heartedly and unconvincingly--for what's occurred on his watch. But it appears to be a little too late.

Perhaps the line between Left and Right is finally blurring a little, and we have Katrina to thank for that. Despite its destructive force in the Gulf, maybe it's helping to heal a divided nation. Now that would be a much better legacy I suspect. Andy


Anonymous said...

I for one am glad that the media has found a voice, but the corporate board rooms are still fully under Republican control. And since we know they are able to fix elections (2000 & 2004), how will we be able to change things around if they just cheat again in 2006?

Anonymous said...

Politics is a very tricky game. Everyone loves a winner. The more the GOP falters, the less support they'll be getting from corporate America. In the meantime, the rest of the world/country seems firmly on an anti-Bush campaign, and that is great for liberals.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

Anon said "In the meantime, the rest of the world/country seems firmly on an anti-Bush campaign, and that is great for liberals."

Ahhh, but there is the rub. The media and country were on an anti-Bush campaign in '04, but he still won. The liberals actually have to field a candidate that can articulate solutions; not just criticism and generic soundbytes. Since liberlism has no solutions, that is a tough item to fill.

Anonymous said...

"The media and country were on an anti-Bush campaign in '04.."

Oh really? The media? You're delusional pal. The media's lips were so firmly planted on Bush's ass last November they got lockjaw.
But they're not any longer. And neither is the country believing Bush's bullshit anymore. It's gonna be a very different story next November.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

You libs are so cute when you actually think you are going to win elections by acting the way you do. It gives me comfort to know that you still think you can win by acting the same and promising to act worse. The GOP will pick up at least 2 senate seats in 06. You heard it first from me.

You still don't get it that Cindy Sheehan is a Karl Rove plant. While the small core of your ilk cheers her on, the rest of the country views you as crackpots.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

cathy in michigan, keep thinking the GOP is cheating when the real problem is with your party. That's how the GOP keeps winning, because you never fix your problems.

StealthBadger said...

I believe Malkin's problem with Ms. Myers does exactly stem from Bush's response to Katrina, though more about the knee-jerk response to Bush's embracing of Big Government Social Programs as a response to Katrina, even if done in an inefficient and corrupt way. It's a no-brainer, and wasn't even an issue I believe until the recent WaPo article lambasting Bush/Myers, since Ms. Myers' nomination has been no secret, and she's also far MORE qualified for the post at ICE than any one of a number of other of the Shrub's vassals are/were for theirs (Brown/FEMA, anyone?).

In short (well, probably not as short as you'd like), the GOP's attempt to woo minorities came back and bit them. In order to follow through with it, Bush actually had to DO something, or at least appear to do something about the victims of Katrina. "Doing something" in Washington generally means throwing a lot of money at the people you want to like you, as well as lots of flashy press releases. The modern GOP is constitutionally (with a small c) unable to contemplate the idea of directing money at poor people without going into fits of apoplexy.

Hence this moment of cannibalism within the GOP that was last seen when Sen. Specter decided to speak candidly and reasonably about the process of judicial nominations.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

As I stated on my blog, maybe Ms. Meyers due to her youth and inexperience will unwittingly enforce our immigration laws instead of having swiss cheese borders like we do now. The experienced immigration heads have been a joke and sadly Bush is responsible for that. One day, a terrorist is going to waltz across our Mexican border with a nuke saying hello to immigration officers as he passes and stopping at a water station to boot. Then the nuke will go off in the location of his choice. If you libs want to win the next election, your only shot is for your candidate to take a very strong stand on enforcing the border giving a specific plan.