Sunday, September 4, 2005

“Don’t Politicize It” — Yeah, Right

When I hear someone from the Bush administration caution the Democrats or anyone else against using Hurricane Katrina for political purposes, I am sure they are telling me that so that they can get out front with their own political plans before anyone else. Even someone who spent the first five years of the Bush administration in the Delta Quadrant knows that Mr. Bush, Mr. Rove, and Mr. Cheney see everything in terms of politics and how they can take advantage of it. As Frank Rich notes in the New York Times:

On Thursday morning, the president told Diane Sawyer that he hoped “people don’t play politics during this period of time.” Presumably that means that the photos of him wistfully surveying the Katrina damage from Air Force One won’t be sold to campaign donors as the equivalent 9/11 photos were. Maybe he’ll even call off the right-wing attack machine so it won’t Swift-boat the Katrina survivors who emerge to ask tough questions as it has Cindy Sheehan and those New Jersey widows who had the gall to demand a formal 9/11 inquiry.

But a president who flew from Crawford to Washington in a heartbeat to intervene in the medical case of a single patient, Terri Schiavo, has no business lecturing anyone about playing politics with tragedy. Eventually we’re going to have to examine the administration’s behavior before, during and after this storm as closely as its history before, during and after 9/11. We’re going to have to ask if troops and matériel of all kinds could have arrived faster without the drain of national resources into a quagmire. We’re going to have to ask why it took almost two days of people being without food, shelter and water for Mr. Bush to get back to Washington.

So don’t hand me the “don’t politicize it” crap. As a matter of fact, give it your best shot. After all, it seems like it’s the only thing the Bush administration is any good at.