As aid finally pours into the city of New Orleans and the waters begin to recede, I find myself asking "Will this actually change anything?" God knows, I think it should.
I believe now more than ever that we are living in a country led by men (and and a few women) who care more about orthodox adherence to a particular political vision (being "vision-based") than to actually trying to improve the day-to-day realities of peoples lives (being "fact-based".) Loyalty, not accuracy, is the watch word of the day. There is no way to screw up in the Bush Administration, except by telling an uncomfortable truth. As long as you support Dubya and act in accordance with his (or is it Karl Rove's? or Dick Cheney's? or Paul Wolfowitz's?) vision for how the world should be, you are doing a good job and will never be fired. In fact, if you do screw up enough that "the liberal media" forces you to lose your job, your loyalty will be rewarded by promotion. It frankly smacks of the things that I was taught during the Cold War to believe about the Communist system just with a few buzzword substitutions. Toppling Saddam will make the United States safer. Tax cuts and huge deficits will make the Government stronger. Up is down. Black is white. One plus one equals three.
There are also those who say that George W. Bush sees running the country as being like Senior class president. It's your Senior year, you get a few bright, aspiring underclassmen working on your homework, you have a few keggers for all the right people, and you get to sit back, relax, and coast... because it's all good, right? As long as you pay favors for favors and keep all the people who count happy, the world is your oyster. Who cares if a few of the people who don't count get hurt along the way?
I can't completely agree with this accessment of the facts... but I can't dismiss it either. It is clear that beyond personal loyalty, all other considerations for this Administration are purely political. Do whatever will get you votes or make the people who need to believe in you happy. Don't try to actually govern, because providing good government doesn't get you elected.
Just deliver on those favors. Just be seen to be doing good. Just make sure that everyone of your friends who needs a job gets one, regardless of whether or not they do it well. Take a vacation, your friends are minding the store.
It's obvious that this strategy has worked. The executive branch of the government has taken on an almost cult-like quality. Facts are immaterial, though sometimes uncomfortable. Criticism is unpatriotic. Healthy skepticism is not tolerated (just ask Christine Todd Whitman, Paul O'Neil to name just two of many examples.) The motto for each idea of the the day is: "repeat it until it is true." This shouldn't work because this country has a free press and all... but if everyone in the Executive Branch is in the cult, Dubya's ideas are the only ones that get reported and for many people they do become true.
The Republican Party spent just under 70 years trying to "climb to the top of the greasy pole" to the point that they dominate the major branches of the Federal Government and the ideological landscape of this country. They did so by clinging steadfastly to core ideas. What they forgot during all those years in the Wilderness is that one does not govern by ideas alone... and that what gets you into the corridors of power is not necessarily what you need once you are there.
Forgetting everything else that bugs the hell out of me about our dear President, there are a few things I would like to see changed. Put an end to the cronyism. Give us more transparency and accountability. Throw a little basic competence into the mix. The relief response for New Orleans showed the that the current Administration suffers badly from cronyism, opaqueness, and incompetence in more than the measure I usually expect from those in Washington.
*sigh* Has it really only been five years since Bill Clinton was President?
on 2005-09-06 at 5:14 p.m.
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