Saturday, January 28, 2006
"People in that part of the world..."
"We will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help
citizens rebuild their communities and their lives." George W. Bush, in New Orleans Jackson Square, September 15, 2005
How did we get from that speech to the nation in Jackson Square to the press conference of Jan. 26 and this:
"I want to remind people in that part of the world, $85 billion is a lot," Bush said, referring to money already appropriated by Congress for wide-ranging recovery efforts all along the Gulf Coast. "It's important for New Orleans and the state of Louisiana to work together to develop a state recovery plan."
Fellow NOLA blogger da po' blog takes apart the President's math in this excellent piece. The current generosity includes $18.5 billion in payouts to flood insurance. How generous of him to honor the legally binding obligations of the United States government.
What really bothers me is not their open dishonesty is dealing with us, it's this:
"people in that part of the world..."
Another NOLA blogger Right Hand Thief looks at the President's remarks of Jan. 12 in Mississippi, and finds that particular phrase a lot.
What part of the world is that, George? When did the Gulf Coast cease to be a part of the United States of America?
Because, if that's the way you feel about us, we could just leave, and take the port and the oil and gas, and take care of ourselves very nicely, thank you.
Southern Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular has always cultivated an image of a place apart. Carnival defines us for much of the outside world. Cajun culture and jazz are world-recognized and unique brands. Some other cities may try to claim jazz, but they can't offer the frothy hurricane cocktail of Cajun and Creole cultures and Carnival.
New Orleans in particular has capitalized on this difference. It is the reason that so many people come to visit, and spend their dollars here. There are other colorful southern cities, but they don't draw the big conventions. Who else remembers the Super Bowl in Green Bay, WI, when they built a faux Bourbon Street?
It has also become our downfall. It's too easy for Bush and others all over the nation, in both parties, just to walk away from us, because we are "people in that part of the world". Mayor Ray Nagin's recent remarks reinforced that image, broadcast throughout the nation in September, of a city of poverty-stricken black looters and criminals.
No one will remember a year from now, if they even know it now, that New Orleans was destroyed not by Katrina, but by the failure of the federal levee system built to protect us. They won't remember that people of all races, bank presidents and bus boys alike, suffered and lost everything. They will only remember those images.
To most Americans, we have become just another backward foreign nation in the grip of disaster. Write a check to your favorite charity, and move on.
It's not as if it were your neighbors who died in the thousands when the levees failed. Don't think about the fact that hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizens are homeless after the devastation of 23,000 square miles of the United States, an area larger than Maryland and eight other states.
No, think about "people in that part of the world...". Your compassionate Compassionate Conservative in Chief has taken care of everything that matters:
The other thing that happened quickly ... was that the energy sector rebounded unbelievably fast. This part of the world is really important for national security and economic security of the United States of America. Remember when the storms hit, a lot of folks were really worried about the price of crude oil and gasoline.
He's got that part of the world under control, and there's no need to worry about filling up your SUV for your next trip to Mardi Gras. And they've cleared out a lot of "those people" in "that part of the world". So come on down. Its a heckuva place to bring your kids.
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