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I don't know about your friendslist, but a bunch of people on mine are absolutely gasping at the fact the Geo. W. Bush has taken responsibility for the slowness of Federal Aid to the Gulf Region stricken by Hurricane Katrina. Well, would you look at that. Dubya is owning up to mistakes that the people he appointed had done wrong. And he did it a mere 2 weeks later than would have been expected from the typical President, which was, in fact, a lifetime sooner than he probably wanted.

The next obvious rhetorical is look at what it took. It took a Stage 4 level storm, followed by a week of avoidance, followed by a Stage 4 level of criticism by a lot of people, some even from his own party, and commentary from television reporters on the scene, to editorials in nearly all of the country's finest newspapers. It took a plummeting approval rating to make The Guy respond. Well, I guess a nose-diving approval rating is a personal issue. Somehow, he's ready to quickly get on anything that is all about him.

So, nice going, GWB. You are quite the stand up guy.

But there's a lot more here. Besides the issues of this one particular disaster, This President has done something that no president I remember has done. He has watered down the office of The President Of The United States.

I mean, what he has done over the past four and a half years from his first inauguration to now, is attempt to do less and less and to take less and less responsibility for things that happened on his watch. He has effectively distanced himself from the areas that people want to use as criticism. By doing so, he is, in a very real way, making the role of president a less important one.

In his case, maybe that's a good thing. If you aren't concerned about all of the issues that The President needs to be concerned with, perhaps going on vacation is the best thing for everyone.

Really, though, Bush is treating the Presidency more like a Monarchy. He's ready to ride in a carriage, wave and smile to the gathered multitudes, give speeches and proclamations, and be there for happy photographs to be seen around the globe. He's our Queen Elizabeth II!

When it comes to making policy, examining issues that are crucial to our day to day lives, such as social security, emergency preparedness and the like, he really doesn't seem to do anything. A "town hall" meeting here, a random comment there. But let it be some issue to please "The Religious Right" such as an attempt to Constitutionally ban gay marriage, sending help to a brain dead DNR patient, prevent stem cells from being used to find cures for diseases or overturn Roe v. Wade, and he's ready to roll.

By doing less and less as president, isn't Bush lowering the standards for the office, more than just a little?

Now, I'm not saying that the presidency should be any more powerful than the other two branches of government, but this guy is not doing the grunt work needed to be considered a worthwhile Leader Of The Free World. From his first speech when he was "declared" the winner of the 2000 election, it never seemed he was terribly interested in the day to day workings of the office. He's all about the trappings of success, the power of being Commander-In-Chief, and being able to jet and/or drive anywhere at a moment's notice, and take nice long vacations when he gets there. Geo. W. Bush, slacker.

What does he do for the general population? Are we becoming polarized? We get the us/them debate going again, no matter who "us" or "them" are, because the "us"es and the "them"s are varied and legion.

Democrats and Republicans are basically two sides of the same coin. There's some serious stuff wrong with each party, and I don't necessarily side with either one at any given moment. However, I do side with people who are authentic, people who truly represent what their constituents want, show some genuine care for those that have suffered, and are willing to get out and do the work needed to recover... especially if they do it before the rest of the country starts screaming for them to do so.

One big difference between Democrats and Republicans, is that Democrats have tended to want to use government to affect social change and to provide for everyone through means of laws and programs. Republicans are generally more interested in keeping their wealth, and having government affect their own lives in the most minimal way possible, but have no problem when governmental decisions help them hold more of their money. If such government decisions have a negative impact on people not within their own circle, it is not a problem. Republicans take the stance that they don't want to be "dictated" by gov't plan to help certain people, but would rather contribute on their own terms... Reagan's famed "trickle down" economics, fr. example.

With so many people of influence currently doing well for themselves, it is easy to see why there are more elephants wandering the landscape nowadays. People want to keep their own money and they don't want the government taxing them for programs that may not be well constructed, to give to people that "aren't working" or who might be considered "less important" to them. This is part of the reason why the gulf between rich and poor has been steadily increasing. Not to mention that people from the lower income brackets tend not to vote, and, as we have seen in certain cases, their votes don't always get counted, even when they do.

The tendency is for the wealthy to not concern themselves with those that aren't in their circle. They don't have to go to the neighborhoods where the poor live and examine the situation in any sort of direct way. Only when some extraordinary circumstance happens does anyone give those people any attention. And then, the help comes later than needed.

And that brings us back to D'oh. Bush is the leader of the pack. The idea is to gain more and more profit, to control as much as possible, and focus on doing good things for anyone who might do something good for you in return. The President can help affect social change by adopting a stance that is in favor of all citizens, not just the ones that have the highest per capita income. That isn't what is happening, and now we are seeing some of the results.

When I talk about how leadership qualities work from the top, down, I mean that the president sets a tone for what is important. What is the current president's focus? He has shown it time and again. He is interested in helping his wealthy friends, he is interested in things that will help big business, whether that means exploiting our natural resources or sending troops to an oil rich country. In an atmosphere where the interest is constantly on pleasing the people who are doing well here, those that aren't doing well are overlooked. And when that is the focus at the top, the influence for everyone in power at the lower levels of government tends to follow. So, Senators, Governors, on down the line will also follow the wake of the Big Ship. That's why being President is so much more than the office itself.

This president is unwilling to do anything unless his personal feelings could potentially be hurt. Once those approval ratings go back up, his dedication to everyone will return strictly to his cronies. We know this for sure. There will be no "social change" on his watch.

So, now what?

There could be a groundswell of support by those that don't approve of the direction the nation is going, and they might organize themselves to accomplish a goal of government for all. In this scenario, you'd see marches on Washington, protests and sit-ins on campuses, and demands by the people of their reps to do something to make this right. 1960s redux, minus the rioting.

There might be a spontaneous change in focus from the administration, where more attention is paid to the people who are not doing as well, and some interest may be taken in creating ways to help, not necessarily with money, mind you, but with concepts that can aid the people and keep the peace. This would be about as likely as the first scenario.

But, the most likely case: NOTHING. No change. There will be a lot of noise in the days and weeks following the investigation of the Katrina disaster (which will probably be a case of the government investigating itself and discovering that everything worked as well as it could), but noise is all it will be. There will probably be a stepped up military action in Iraq to distract attention to that venue and away from the domestic issues that have continually been overlooked. There will be some occasion for Bush to be celebrated for something he did. There will be more photo ops, more uplifting speeches given, more handshakes and more smiles or smirks as the case may be. There'll be a new Chief Justice and any number of other events to get people's minds from the issues that haven't been answered. Sure, these corporations might get more zeroes tacked on to their ledgers. But the bigger picture will stay exactly as is.

Mm. With the way that we resist change, isn't that a comforting thought?

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
xqjennaqx
Sep. 14th, 2005 06:38 am (UTC)
I saw something on the news today about how Halliburton "won" the contract for construction of the naval bases destroyed by Katrina, how on top of unlimited budget for reconstruction they have a guaranteed profit margin, and a nice little waiver from our president that says they don't have to pay their workers a fair share.

Apparently, this will be an excellent Christmas for Halliburton stockholders.

What I find so disturbing about this administration, in addition to all those things you just noted, with which I wholeheartedly agree, is the fact that the corruption and favoritism is just so flagrant and in-your-face. I know all political machines have "spoils" and corruption, but Bush practically prints it on a t-shirt and gives the world the finger, you know? It makes me ashamed of my country.
penpusher
Sep. 14th, 2005 08:07 am (UTC)
Yes. Halliburton had some very difficult competition in winning those bids. They must have somehow known just what to propose to get the contract.

Despite being overt about their control of everything, it could and might even get worse. I mean, they could totally take the "We're America and what we say is what will happen" tack. That's the undercurrent right now anyway.

It's putting the nation in an ugly place, a place where we will have no allies to support us. When that happens, shame will be the least of our worries...
xqjennaqx
Sep. 14th, 2005 04:22 pm (UTC)
It's starting to have that creepy "Fall of Rome" vibe, isn't it?
sparkle_shortz
Sep. 15th, 2005 05:40 am (UTC)
less diplomatic version:
Bill Maher's closing bit the other night:
"Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.

"Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.

"But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.

"On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.

"So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: 'Take a hint.' "
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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