There are those that will explicate President Bush’s New Orleans speech line-by-line pointing out the rhetorical and the impractical. And to them I say, knock yourselves out!
For me the speech was a combination of “war president” meets the theatre of the absurd. And to make it more interesting I figure that I would leave it up to the reader to decide which parts of the speech they considered to be the “war president’s” strong points along with the absurd.
Not sure where to begin, I figure that I should start with his lighted entrance. It was as though his handlers were trying to recreate the feel, the ambiance of a triumphant leader in a post September 11th world, standing upon a heap of rubble with bullhorn in hand. Yet I couldn’t get over the blue shirt Bush was wearing.
Blue is considered to be a creative, cool color. Noting that the speech was lacking in creativity the blue shirt might have been a way of disarming those people who are already put off by Bush. Considering public support for Bush is lower than Bill Clinton’s when he was being pilloried for his affair with Monica Lewinsky I imagine that Karl Rove and Andy Card were hoping that blue shirt would mask the president’s insincere smirk.
It was rather clear that the speechwriters where combing through older speeches as they cobbled together this hastily planned speech. And in the fashion of the “war president” Bush let us know that in no uncertain terms that “we will do what it takes, and stay as long as it takes” in New Orleans.
Whew! Nothing like the recycled rhetoric of the “war president” to really inspire the public; I know that Bush likes to compare the war in Iraq to World War II and the Cold War, but to hurricanes? Another bit of information that I learned from the Bush presidency is that entrepreneurship is the key to building a democracy in Iraq as it is in rebuilding New Orleans. Who knew? I didn’t. Did you?
Perhaps this is why Bush decided to play television reporter “on the scene” as he recounted the past two weeks of news reports like the rest of the country hadn’t already heard and seen the stories he sought to highlight. Somebody should tell Bush that while he was watching the DVD version of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation the country and the world was watching it live.
So as I listened to the repeated gestures of compassion and his belief in his faith I thought about how Pat Robertson was on the list of non-profits that was selected to help the “refugees” of New Orleans. I am a little nervous about the government relying upon Bush’s “armies of compassion.” Although it might explain why Bush was so interested in sitting in the swing on Trent Lott’s rebuilt front porch.
And speaking of rebuilding homes, entrepreneurs, and the Gulf Opportunity Zone, I found Bush’s call for tax relief more of the same, sacrifice without sacrifice particularly if you are one of those companies that received a no-bid contract to help rebuild Iraq. Oops, I meant to write companies that received no-bid contracts to rebuild New Orleans. Sorry, its just that in listening to Bush it became harder and harder to differentiate between Iraq and New Orleans.
And as Bush neared the end of his presentation it was clear that whatever effect the blue shirt may have had on those viewers (especially those who think that poverty and racism affected the federal government’s response to Katrina) was lost when Bush started talking about gentrification, I mean the plan he referred to as Urban Homesteading.
Personally, I am concerned about one aspect of Bush’s presentation. I was wondering if Trent Lott’s home and porch would be rebuilt before a congressional investigation is completed into the failures of his administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.