Thursday, September 08, 2005

WHEN DADDY FAILS: Why the Bush team's mistakes are the only ones that really matter

I am tired of the constant refrain from the Bush lovers that we must look first at the failures of the mayor and governor. No criticism of our boy until you pillory officials further down the food chain.

But even the conservatives should feel a chill down their spines when they think about What If It Happened Here?.

If a nuclear device goes off in DC, Mayor Nagin won't be there to blame.

If someone infected with bird flu is getting off a plane at Detroit Metro Airport this moment, it won't be Governor Blanco in charge of dealing with the pandemic.

We have paid billions for a vision of Homeland Security as our ultimate protector. Let the others dither and falter, these strong, brave and competent men will come to our rescue.


Born-agains aside, Bush won the last election because he peeled off enough women's votes -- women who turned to what they perceived as a strong husband and father to save them. His appeal to enough women to win became blindingly clear to me when beauteous Angie Harmon of Law and Order fame spoke at the Republican convention about how she felt after 9/11. With her own eyes, she had seen people of her race and class murdered by the thousands. She wanted no part of the Democratic Mommy Party, with its compassion and nuance -- give her the tough Republican Daddy Party every time.

So what may be the Bush administration's ultimate undoing is that they didn't deliver, no matter how many Democrats might have stood in their way. Dad is supposed to brush the feckless aside and carry you to safety.

If the Angie Harmons of the world don't abandon the Bush ship now, the only explanation I can come up with is that this time, the victims didn't look like them. If you don't identify with the folks at the SuperDome, maybe you can cling to the hope that these guys will still keep the privileged classes safe.

But even the Angies of this country must rest a little less comfortably at night wondering whether catastrophes like bird flu will spare people with means like the hurricane did. Maybe it takes having that second home up in the mountains, where you can shoot anyone with the sniffles who tries to stop by?

One of the comforting myths that Americans cling to is that we are all in this together. New Orleans showed how many are left behind. Let's hope that we all become smart enough to understand that the trickle-down theory leaves too many people drowning and that even those who own their own lifeboat may find they aren't safe either.

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