September 16, 2005, 3 a.m.
Pretty much everything Mr. Bush has said since this crisis began has been unspeakably insensitive. But tonight he topped himself. While reading his ghost-written speech in front of the temporarily illuminated 1855 statue of slaveowner Andrew Jackson, he used the most tasteless metaphor of all. Speaking from the deserted city of New Orleans, he appropriated the image of the jazz funeral.
Mr. Bush — I can’t bring myself to call him the President — had the gall to evoke this sacred African American tradition while black people’s corpses were still decomposing within walking distance from where he was speaking. While, as an e-mail from someone who had just returned from the Ninth Ward advised me, the stench of death in the street was overpowering. While the destitute were unable to afford the plainest of jazzless funerals for their loved ones. While anguished mothers were still separated from their children two and a half weeks after the hurricane.
I hope Mr. Bush can play the tuba himself, because I doubt there will be much enthusiasm for his parade from the now dispersed communities that know how to do jazz funerals right. I wish I could forget that image of him with the guitar while the Ninth Ward was drowning.
Tonight, while we were still struggling to comprehend the magnitude of this catastrophe, he promised everything but the moon. He promised “one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen.” In other words, the ultimate big-government project, throwing off lots of money for his cronies in business and faith-based organizations. He didn’t tell us how we can afford to do this now, when we couldn’t even afford levee maintenance for New Orleans before.
George W. Bush is simply not capable of overseeing the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast. Much less the rebuilding of the shattered United States of America. Not intellectually, not administratively, and not morally.
He and his appointees abandoned an entire community of United States citizens to be trapped like rats and left to starve, dehydrate, and literally rot in an open sewer. Even if this unforgivable insult to African Americans were Mr. Bush’s sole offense, his resignation would be an essential element of any meaningful accountability.
But beyond that, he has betrayed us repeatedly. He lied to us in prosecuting an unwinnable, unnecessary, and calamitous war. He’s made the rest of the world despise us. He’s crippled our national security, dealt a body blow to our domestic social justice, divided the American public into hostile camps as if preparing for civil war, subordinated science to ideology, sabotaged the free press, undermined working people, made slander and smear a public weapon of first resort, awarded large no-bid contracts to politically connected companies, eroded the magnificent American distinction between church and state, and badly damaged the economy.
We have to have a well-informed chief executive who works 52 weeks a year, not a government that goes on vacation in August. Mr. Bush has repeatedly proven that he is not up to the task. It’s not that he must now do better. He can’t do better. We cannot survive three and a half more years of Mr. Bush’s incompetence and reckless disregard.
We have a lot of soul-searching to do, and a lot of things to change, but we can’t even begin to do it with him as president. His departure is only a first step toward reclaiming our national dignity, but it is a necessary step.
Since he seems not to understand the difference between a government and a private company, we must explain it to him in a businesslike way:
Not in 2008. Now.
NED SUBLETTE is a musicologist and author who lives in Manhattan. He was a 2004-2005 Rockefeller Humanities Fellow at Tulane University in New Orleans. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH
We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the “Website”).
Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.
As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.
We are pleased to clarify the position.
August 17, 2005