Bush Speech

To universal press agreement that the administration’s entire record, and perhaps Republican control of the congress, is at risk, Bush gave a typically awful speech last night. The man continues to have the blatant shamelessness typical of an enormous, cynical, ignorance protected by toadies and cowardly aides.

A précis, with my bitter thought balloons, follows:

All the loss and pain and damage resulted from the storm itself (and whiny Louisiana Democrats’ mistakes, not to be confused with Mississippi and Alabama Republicans’ competence and courage. Anyway, the hurricane came from the Bahamas. Do the Bahamas have a dictator I can overthrow? WMDs, winds of mass destruction, it has possibilities…must ask Rummy about this.)

I’m really really sad to see all the suffering it caused. (The more I say this, the less anyone has to actually do anything about it).

Anything that went wrong at the federal level is my fault. (Reagan taught me this really cool move: elevate blame high enough with a straight face, and no one actually has to face any consequences! Throwing Brown to the wolves was plenty.)

We’re going to rebuild everything… (Halliburton is already at the trough, so Cheney is happy and my friends are happy. When we start handing out this avalanche of pork, with all those hungry unemployed workers, no prevailing wage nonsense, and no environmental rules, campaign contributions will flow like water through a broken levee).

…just where it was, only stronger… (the next hurricane would be stronger too, if global warming were actually happening; glad it’s not!)

…and the federal government will pay for everything!

[removed from early drafts: This will really need some tax increases ] (Nah, the deficit will pay now, and with no estate or capital gains tax, my friends’ kids will be able to make sure that our people don’t get hit when the bill comes in)

The suffering was especially severe for poor black people, and that’s bad. (I need to say this a lot too, because I haven’t the vaguest idea what to do about it. Anyway, my people have been very clear about wanting a docile labor force that won’t sop up their profits on all this reconstruction. Fortunately we don’t really need votes from blacks, we just have to keep saying we want them).

(Rove says this will work but I’m not sure. We may have to do another war, it’s the only thing that reliably shuts up the New York Times and the Democrats…and Iran practically admits they have WMD’s! For that, I can take most of the troops out of Iraq, which isn’t working for me any more anyway, and I bet we get a nice enlistment bump from all those homeless evacuees… I need to have Condi work out how to provoke them if we need to. One good speech from Bolton at the UN ought to do it. Being a war president is more fun than anything else I’ve tried, and this disaster stuff is really the pits…)

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.