Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Moment Has Passed

Robert Steinback in the Miami Herald:

There’s something foul in the air above the devastated Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi coasts, and it isn’t the rank miasma wafting from the fetid floodwaters dispatched by two powerful hurricanes.

It’s the stench of political opportunism. Just when you hoped America’s political combatants could suspend hostilities for a moment and unite on behalf of the victims of Katrina and Rita, the Bush administration shows there is no crisis, no human misery, from which vulture capitalism and political expediency can’t benefit.

On Sept. 15, President Bush boldly declared that the federal government would step forward to pay for most of the reconstruction of the upper Gulf Coast, including New Orleans, pummeled by Hurricane Katrina. OK, so it was a tad late — 18 days, to be precise. But it reinforced the stunning epiphany that seemingly had occurred two days earlier, when Bush — Bush! — accepted responsibility for the feds’ pathetic post-storm response. Those hours comprised perhaps the finest moments of Bush’s tenure.

Alas, the other shoe fell quickly. As if Bush’s country-club pals had rolled up a newspaper and swatted him on the nose, the president the very next day made clear that government spending cuts, not tax increases, would pay a reconstruction bill that could reach $200 billion. America’s aristocracy sighed with relief.

[…]

What for a golden moment appeared to be a caring president mobilizing the federal government to help average Americans for a change, upon closer scrutiny looks like just another episode in the relentless conservative campaign to gut government and entrench the American corporate-based aristocracy — and even hapless, homeless storm victims haven’t slowed that march.

Remember that scene in History of the World, Part I:

Leader of the Senate: All fellow members of the Roman senate hear me. Shall we continue to build palace after palace for the rich? Or shall we aspire to a more noble purpose and build decent housing for the poor? How does the senate vote?

Entire Senate: FUCK THE POOR!

You can always count on Robert Steinback — and Mel Brooks — to get it right.