Has Katrina Swept President Bush Away?

September 26, 2005

It is inconceivable to me how a natural disaster could spark a virtual orgy in a political movement, but that seems to be precisely the effect of Hurricane Katrina on liberals.

Ever since President Bush took office, liberals have been rooting from one thing to another in a frenzied quest to find that one issue, one tragedy, one scandal that would bring him down. The list is too long to recite here.

Bush’s critics treat each of these issues, in turn, as the final straw that will break the back of this abominable presidency. Everything is blown out of proportion, every possible ambiguity is resolved in President Bush’s disfavor, and every possible malevolent motive is attributed to him. The most innocuous of events is treated as scandalous. Hyperbole rules. Panic prevails. Fantastic conspiracy theories triumph. Sober, balanced analysis is absent.

You would think the liberal cabal would have thoroughly discredited itself with its incessant crying of “wolf,” but with mainstream media megaphones always at their back, they march on.

But is there no limit to their reservoir of indignation? Does everything have to be a 10-rated calamity (on a scale of 10)? Have they no ability to discriminate, to distinguish between the minor and the serious? The real and the contrived?

With the unfolding of any event that carries the remotest chance of damaging President Bush, they wail in unison, decrying this miserable, corrupt, “selected” president.

But with Katrina I smell an even greater blood lust in the air, even more so than with our failure to find WMD stockpiles in Iraq, and much more than Abu Ghraib or Gitmo. They seem to believe Katrina offers real promise for finally exacting justice on President Bush, the paragon of conservative insensitivity, the poster boy for anti-intellectualism and hero of the uncultured.

There has been a new spring in their step since the New Orleans levees broke and they realized they could blame any tardiness in the federal response on racism. As but one example, I refer you to “Meet the Press,” Sunday, Sept. 25, where Tim Russert interviewed three New York Times columnists, Thomas Friedman, Maureen Dowd and David Brooks.

Listening to Friedman and Dowd you would assume Katrina had ushered in some profound revelation about President Bush that had caused a sea change in the way we should view him from this point forward.

Whatever you may have believed about him before — assuming you were among the credulous class who thought he might have redeeming qualities — you must now concede that he’s a louse. Only the incorrigibly dense fail to realize his presidency is over.

He’s the lamest of lame ducks who will only be allowed to serve out his remaining term because — unfortunately — we don’t have a British-style parliamentary system under which we could dispatch him immediately with a vote of “No confidence.”

It’s as if they are saying, “Finally, the faux legitimacy President Bush has enjoyed since 9/11 has ended. The masquerade is over. The jig is up. Everyone can see now that he’s the boob we’ve saying he is, not the mature, crisis-managing executive he’s been pretending to be.”

Friedman said, “Well, I believe 9/11 truly distorted our politics, Tim, and it gave the president and his advisers an opening to take a far hard right agenda, I believe, on taxes and other social issues, from 9/10, that was not going anywhere from 9/10, and drove it into a 9/12 world. It put the wind at his back. And Katrina brought that to an end. It put the wind in his face.” Friedman then suggested that President Bush’s only salvation would be through a “fundamental recasting of his position and his administration.” (Translation: He must act like a good liberal.)

I wouldn’t cite Friedman if his position were not representative of that being expressed by many liberal commentators and Democrat politicians, who are behaving as if Democrats have just won a major election. Either they’re deluding themselves or trying to fool the public into believing a national disaster has serendipitously vindicated their entire worldview. If anything, the opposite is true. While Katrina (and Rita) has put an additional financial strain on government, it hasn’t laid a glove on the conservative blueprint for our nation’s problems.

Despite their premature celebrating, President Bush is not likely to be buried or deterred by all the anticipatory obituaries from his leftist critics, who have grossly underestimated him before. Katrina notwithstanding, he has a spate of unfinished, conservative agenda items to pursue (and, if we’re lucky, a number of liberal ones to scrap). On the bright side for the Bush-haters, they still have more than three years to bask in their rage.