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Way Down in New Orleans

by JENNIFER MATSUI

and STELLA LA CHANCE

The catastrophic success of Hurricane Katrina in carrying out the Bush administration’s second term agenda in only a few short days should have been cheering news for the beleaguered war prez. Even though he is being forced to lick his wounds publicly while the key players of “Operation Hurrah Katrina” celebrate “Mardi Graft” behind closed doors, the president should have had plenty of reason to rejoice along with them, if he hadn’t already outlived his usefulness both publicly and within his own party. Having secured New Orleans as ground zero for a long awaited ethnic cleansing, while laying out the blueprint for a police state nationwide, Bush is now in the awkward position of having to appear penitent while signaling “Mission Accomplished” to his dwindling base.

Already we can see the damage he’s inflicted on his trademark smirk, as he snorts and wheezes through his openly scripted public appearances. Not even his renewed hard line stance against Syria can re-ignite his fizzling approval ratings. Funny how the plight of homeless Somalis swimming around in your own backyard tends to put a damper on even the heartiest appetites for destruction. Add a grieving Gold Star mother left to bake outside your Texas ranch and you’ve got yourself a public relations nightmare. And that’s not even counting Tom Delay’s recent arrest for money laundering, Bill Frist’s SEC woes, and Karl Rove’s impending indictment in the Valerie Plame affair. Clearly, Bush is living off the chump change left over from his much vaunted and mostly illusory “political capital.”

After publicly praising fellow patsy and former FEMA chief Michael Brown — the Lee Harvey Oswald of this reverse political assassination (what else do you call it when a public figure is set up to kill thousands of his fellow citizens?) — Bush himself has become a fall guy for the White House’s Cheney-led cabal, yet another expendable player in the shell game of Empire. Having achieved everything they set out to do (destroy the Bill of Rights, expand the powers of the Patriot Act, make Homeland Security a branch of the military, give permanent tax breaks to the rich, legalize torture, normalize pre-emptive war, eradicate public education… to name just a few), the junta has little reason to concern itself with trivialities like Bush’s plummeting popularity.

Still, the junta may have underestimated the fallout from the recently disclosed e-mails from a FEMA staffer to Michael Brown’s secretary proving that “Brownie” fiddled with his dinner arrangements while New Orleans was being wiped off the map. “Let Brownie Eat Cake” will likely linger in the collective memory long after the heads of America’s current Imperial rulers roll into the gutter of history. Rather than the fiery “End Times” finale many expected would mark the end of Bush’s second term in office, a confluence of comparatively minor but highly symbolic events have contributed to the steady erosion of his approval ratings, leaving him vulnerable and ridiculous. Even die-hard loyalists have to admit that only a horse’s ass would promote a horse show organizer to the nation’s highest emergency relief agency. And only a horse’s ass would praise the efforts of this mass murderer’s bungled hatchet job on his own presidency. “Guten arbeit, Herr Braunie.”

Bush’s choice of loyal spinster Harriet Miers, his one-time legal counsel and head cheerleader, as his Supreme Court nominee gives impetus to the notion that the president is a lonely and isolated figure in his own administration. At first glance, the evangelical Harriet Miers seems a natural choice for the “Supreme-Being” Court — an asexual frump with a corruption riddled résumé and a paper trail of love letters to the guy who is now championing her promotion to the federal bench. Being as unfamiliar with the complexities of constitutional law as she is with the correct application of eyeliner, Miss Harriet fits right in with all the other unqualified comfort-giving cronies (emphasis on “crone”) whom he has appointed to key positions based on loyalty and a willingness to play wet nurse to his inner demons. It’s not hard to imagine (although painful to visualize) wee George struggling with mater Barbara’s whalebone corsets only to find himself suckling the butt-end of her mother-of-pearl-handled Smith and Wesson. The wildly unpopular choice of his former lawyer to the nation’s top court merely reinforces the view that the boy king feels increasingly frozen out of the decision-making loop, and is seeking maternal reassurance from yet another tough old nanny bird who will soothe his daily public spankings with lollipops, and lend a sympathetic ear to his private deliriums.

On the other hand, we should at least consider the possibility that abject fear and paranoia lies at the root of Bush’s bizarre choice. Could it be that George’s real concern is that history will describe his major legacy as starting (and losing) a war based on a mountain of lies as opposed to being the first United States President to end up in prison for his achievement?

Perhaps Harriet’s secret asset and only real qualification for the highest court is her assurance of a “not guilty” verdict on appeal, should Dubya be forced to answer to a jury of American citizens angry at being manipulated, repeatedly lied to, and exploited for their warm bodies and tax dollars in the name of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” or any number of other high crimes and misdemeanors, including making torture a national policy and revealing the names of CIA operatives during wartime?

Conservative opposition to Harriet Miers, nomination is only based in part on her ambiguous stance on Roe v Wade, contrary to what the blowholes of the religious right would have us believe. More likely, it stems from the residual rage Bush loyalists feel after seeing “Dear Leader” exposed as a drooling dummy, wholly dependent on Karl Rove’s Light and Magic wizardry to prop him up.

Image, more than ideology, has always explained the political genius of George Bush. By maintaining a barricaded and heavily armed distance from the grunts on the ground (at home and in Iraq), the boy king’s regal disregard for human suffering could always be marketed to his advantage at the skilled hands of his puppet masters. Through the power of image, the silver spoon he was born with became a dirt tipped shovel, his cowardice, “courage”, and his notorious insensitivity, “compassion”.

But almost overnight, it seems, Bush has transformed from the HSS Lincoln’s buff, “commanderin,” chief into a cowardly deck hand standing idiotically resolute on the prow of a life boat, watching helplessly as his slave ship sinks. That’s not to say that his supporters are shedding too many tears for the chained human cargo that perished aboard the “SS Katrina.” Indeed they have made clear that they privately endorse genocide if it accomplishes what decades of tax breaks for the rich, cuts to social services, and curbs on civil liberties have failed to do, namely kill off “undesirable” populations and keep the remaining majority paralyzed with fear and uncertainty.

But even those who benefit most from the “bidness” of government and religion take exception to having their agenda laid out in the cruel glare of daylight. For them, Bush’s criminality is not so much his utter contempt for human life but his ignorant disregard for the protocols of Empire. Through arrogance and incompetence, the Junior Bush has revealed the tricks of the global gulag trade, allowing the inmates a revealing look into the infernal center of their prison planet. For that reason alone, he will live out the remainder of his term in disgrace and obscurity.

JENNIFER MATSUI and Stella La Chance can be reached at: jenmatsui@hotmail.com

 

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Jennifer Matsui is a writer living in Tokyo.

CounterPunch Magazine

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