The following astonishing remark seems to sum up a lot of the mendacity, or (generously) profound cluelessness, of the current administration:
[Bush] also promised to reimburse states for the costs associated with taking in people forced out of their homes by the hurricane, telling state leaders, “You should not be penalized for showing compassion.”
What can this possibly mean? Does Bush think charity entails some endless round of reimbursements so that when A gives B something, after the dust clears, A still has it? If that’s true, what’s to admire? Is the idea that people in, say, Minnesota will pay Texans for being useful–but then who protects the Minnesotans from being “penalized”?
Where does he think federal tax money comes from…some group completely different from state taxpayers, perhaps in a galaxy far away and long ago? Or is this just something else we can take from our grandchildren by borrowing? When your dad’s rich friends have always assured you a soft landing, perhaps you get the idea that a country probably has rich friends like that out there somewhere…where’s that list of Coalition of the Willing phone numbers!
Does he understand that all those houses, businesses, and power lines were really destroyed in the storm, just like the dead and the fuel and the ammunition and the humvees in Iraq? …that we’ve been irreversibly made poorer by the event, and that the American people deserve to know this? …that replacing it means we will give up a lot of stuff we could otherwise have had? The cost can be shared, and should, by spreading it across the whole population instead of just the locals, but that doesn’t mean it can be made to disappear in some endless chain of reimbursements and re-reimbursements. Bush’s refusal to ask for a tax increase for the war, or to directly ask people to volunteer for military service, is perfectly consistent with this kind of careless, irresponsible promise.
Churchill promised “blood, sweat and tears”, but he didn’t have Karl Rove to straighten him out. Mr. President, you’re no Churchill. Sacrifice for a good cause and showing compassion (as distinct from bleating about how much of it you feel) is precisely, exactly, accepting a “penalty”: doing without something you would otherwise have–your time, your money, your spare room. Leadership entails telling the truth, not serving up lies and eyewash. And the people who really are making sacrifices to be compassionate deserve not to be slimed by implying they expect it not to cost them anything.