Thursday, January 26, 2006

What Nixon and I Have in Common

I am a “Daily Show” addict. I don’t mind admitting it’s where I get most of my news, and that I trust Jon Stewart more than any other newscaster. Sure, it’s the “fake” news, but it’s also more honest than any of the “real” news programs out there. We live in postmodern times, folks. The revolution already happened, but nobody noticed.

Anyway, so I’m watching it on Monday, and Jon Stewart was interviewing this guy Fred Barnes, a man who has apparently written a book that ranks Dubya as a president barely one step below George Washington in the Greatest President Ever Sweepstakes. Needless to say, the man’s judgment is seriously impaired. He tried to defend this position by explaining what a rebel Dubya is, bucking the Washington establishment and whatnot, to which Jon Stewart asked in what way is a sitting President, with his party in control of both houses of Congress and the judiciary as well as lobbyists and money, NOT the Washington establishment. The guy mumbled something about conservatives disagreeing with him on immigration and trailed off with some vague mention of “liberals,” who apparently are still somehow in control of everything even though nothing has gone the way liberals would have wanted them to in, say, about thirty years. Normally, I wouldn’t bother with Fred Barnes, since Dubya-fandom in and of itself isn’t a sin. Stupid, yes, and kind of sad, but not evil.

On the other hand, he referred to some “bumps in the road” that Bush has weathered through in the past year, bumps that led to otherwise inexplicable low points in his polls, and for which clearly Bush should bear no responsibility whatsoever. With a deprecating chuckle and a dismissive wave of his hand, he enumerated these “bumps in the road” – namely Katrina and Harriet Myers.

A Supreme Court nominee who failed because she was completely and totally unqualified, and a natural and man-made (them damn levees again – no, I’m not going to stop mentioning them) disaster of unequalled proportions in the history of our country - what exactly would be the points of similarity there? Leaving that aside, I would never refer to the deaths of well over a thousand people, the complete devastation of a major American city, and the annihilation of the Gulf Coast as a “bump in the road” of anyone’s presidency.

Fred Barnes did, however, articulate a view that I’m afraid is shared by too many conservatives and Republicans in this country. Specifically, the idea that the worst outcome of Katrina and Rita is that it unfairly reflected badly on Dubya. “Unfair” because how could he have possibly known that something so bad would have happened even though he received a memo explaining just such a bad thing happening shortly before it did? (And why does that sound vaguely familiar?) And “worst” because what could be worse than anything reflecting badly on our sainted leader?

Let me think – watching your family home getting tumbled into a canal and floating away comes to mind, or perhaps clinging to the roof of your house as your wife gets washed away and drowned while you can do nothing. Or even this one – your mother gets evacuated from the Superdome and five months later you still can’t find her. Just to name a few off the top of my head.

For a while now, I have been considering the necessity of compiling (to borrow an idea from the now-he-doesn’t-seem-so-bad Nixon) an Enemies List. An enumeration, if you will, of those that stand opposed, either directly or through inaction, to the recovery of my city and the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Because of his utter insensitivity, his complete lack of compassion, and his total incomprehension when confronted with tragedy, Fred Barnes has moved me to finally do so.

I would give him the top spot, but really, Michael Brown worked way too hard to deserve that honor.

It is a list that I’m afraid isn’t going to take too long to grow.

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