20 September 2005

Low watermark for Bush?

    When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
      Old adage

    Until I read Eleanor Clift's recent commentary, Bush Repackaged, I hadn't heard that Karl Rove was in the hospital with kidney stones during the height of Hurricane Katrina. Clift suggests that this explains Bush's poor response to the disaster early on, and his subsequent retooling.

    The main focus of the commentary, however, is the implications of the Bush administration's reconstruction plan. Thusfar, I am mainly appalled at Bush's assertions that the $200 billion bill could be paid for with spending cuts. I saw the plan itself mostly as damage control. Having read the Clift commentary, I realize it is much more. "To hear Bush talk," she says, "we're about to witness a Republican utopia in the hurricane zone."

    Citing the Republican's current weakness in the polls, Clift describes this as "a pivotal moment in politics with a president severely compromised and the country poised to embrace a contrary view of government that rejects the Darwinian capitalism of the Reagan-Bush era." But if that is to happen, Democrats will need to offer real alternatives that voters can embrace. It is not enough, she says, "to stand aside and wait for the GOP to implode." Unfortunately, her assessment of the Democrat response is less than optimistic.

    Meanwhile, the Bush camp has already moved beyond damage control. In their eyes, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath is an opportunity to further their conservative agenda, just like the 9/11 attacks. To be sure, the absencee of an aggressor makes it more difficult for Bush to rally the country behind him, and his early inaction hurt his credibility seriously. But that is in the past, and voters have short memories.

    With Rove back, they're working full-time to turn things around. If they do, the post-Katrina reconstruction could be a final crowning achievement of a Bush presidency, strengthening the neo-con's hold on the Republican party, and government as a whole. They are certainly doing all the right things to make that future a reality.

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