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Most of my posts seem to be about music or politics. Some of them are funny. But all of them would love to hear a comment from you.

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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.

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In the Wake of the Wake of the Flood
Tuesday, September 13, 2005

(With apologies to my 3 conservative occasional readers: the pop star, the brother, and the desperate housewife.)

My initial inclination in the wake of the wake of the flood was to leave politics out of the thing. But then the criticism and finger pointing began, and I hated to be left out of it all. No, actually, I saw a commentator on TV say that if we don’t raise these issues now, they will never get a proper airing out, and I decided he was right. See, it isn’t the blame game; it is the accountability game. If you want to be, say, mayor or governor or president, you owe the people some accountability. And the higher up you go, the more accountability you have (not, as president Bush would have it, less.)

The tsunami of backlash against the current administration is appropriate, well-deserved, and potentially profound. Let’s take a moment to understand why.

Republican apologists will tell you things like “there’s plenty of blame to go around,” or, “The story here is, government failed at every level.” Both these statements are designed to deflect criticism from the president and his cronies. Both are flawed logic.

There is indeed plenty of blame to go around. However, as Al Franken said yesterday (I was already using these words, but I now must acknowledge that so did he), Roy Nagin is not my mayor. Kathleen Blanco is not my governor. But George W. Bush—he’s my president. Expect Nagin to be held accountable by a city, Blanco by a state. But Bush is accountable to a nation, and that includes me. And probably you.

Second: is it really surprising to anyone that the local government officials of New Orleans, Louisiana are incompetent? No? I didn’t think so. So, like it or not, their culpability in the flood disaster is a case of dog bites man, and so not news. No one was shocked by this.

But when the first disaster hits this country since 9/11, on Bush’s watch, after the formation of the department of Homeland Security, and the reaction is so sadly dismal? When the administration is supposed to be competent, in control, and buttoned up? Man bites dog. Big news.

When you sit in the big chair, you shoulder the big responsibility. Bush has been smirking and shirking his whole life; nothing is ever, has ever been, his fault. You don’t get to play it that way if you’re in the big chair. This is his fault. By definition. If you don’t like that, Mr. President, you have the wrong job.

The potential impact on national politics is profound. It may be an oversimplification, but I generally assume 30% of the country will always, no matter what, vote Republican. Another 30% will always, no matter what, vote Democrat. These 60% of the voters are just not in play.

The remainder—the middle 40%-- is up for grabs, and these are the people who comprise mainstream America. These are the Democrats who voted for Reagan, the business leaders who rallied behind Clinton. Moderate, less partisan, and the real indicator of which way the wind is blowing.

The Bush camp won two elections by appealing to the middle 40% (which is not unusual; that is how you win national elections.) These people perceived Gore and Kerry as vague, probably lacking in leadership, and had more confidence in Bush.

But here’s what happened in New Orleans. The middle 40% basically sat in front of the TV for 3 weeks with jaw agape, sputtering, “What the F***? I thought these guys were supposed to be on the ball.” These people are watching things unfold, and they are thinking: either the administration dropped the ball, or they didn’t care enough about poor black New Orleans. It has to be one or the other. And the good people of mainstream America, giving the administration the benefit of the doubt, are assuming it is the former.

And see, the Republicans can’t tell them that the administration did not drop the ball. Because that message won’t make these people to shift blame from the Bush administration to the local politicians. No, it will cause them to move to explanation B, lack of concern for the poor black people of New Orleans. There is no win here for Bush. Just degrees of loss.

When all is said and done, what has happened is that the Republicans have lost the hearts and minds of the middle forty. And boy, do they know it. The “resignation” of “Brownie” yesterday was the clearest indication. Bush getting his ass into the muck in New Orleans yesterday is another.

Has the tide turned? Yes, but that doesn’t mean it won’t turn back before the mid-term elections. The Democrats need to put some points on the board right now, not just rely on the Republicans giving a bunch back. And sadly, there has been little since William Jeff left office to indicate that there are any national Democrats capable of putting points on the board.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 1:39 PM  

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