A flood of Bush bashing

Posted: Sep 05, 2005 12:00 AM

It is only a matter of hours now that, after any catastrophe anywhere in the world -- a tsunami, a hurricane, a terrorist bombing on the London tube -- Bush haters find ways to blame President Bush. Hurricane Katrina? Bush haters have pointed their fingers at global warming, the war on terror, the Bush tax cuts, the national dependence on oil -- and in every category, Bush is the root of the evil.

 Forget nature. George W. Bush is more powerful.

 The German environment minister and U.S. enviro Robert F. Kennedy cited global warming as a cause for the hurricane. It doesn't matter if data show, as James Glassman of TechCentralStation pointed out, the peak for major hurricanes came in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Columnist Molly Ivins criticized Bush for cutting $71 million from the New Orleans Corps of Engineers -- even though the levee that broke had just been upgraded.

 Are National Guardsmen in Iraq? Yes, some 35 percent are, but more are in Louisiana, and nearby police and firefighters can pitch in.

  Bush haters who want to appear less rabid than their quick counterparts wait a whole day or so. Thursday, The New York Times editorial page hit Bush for delivering a bad speech about the hurricane's aftermath, for grinning while he spoke and for asking Americans to donate cash but not asking them to sacrifice.

 The day before, the paper opined, "This seems like the wrong moment to dwell on fault-finding, or even to point out that it took what may become the worst natural disaster in American history to pry President Bush out of his vacation."

 It's not as pithy as some of the other anti-Bush slogans, but here's an idea for a T-shirt slogan: "Clinton vacationed at Martha's Vineyard, and nobody died." Others have lighted on left-leaning targets.

 They blame residents of New Orleans for living in a city built largely below sea level. They fault homeowners who live near the beach. Of course, industries like shipping and tourism exist because of those locations. When you think about it, every locale has its hazard, be it hurricane, blistering heat, blizzard, earthquake or tornado.

 Some blame families that did not heed the call to evacuate -- including families that didn't have cars, money or places to go to.

 On the right, there is triumph in how the left should be held accountable for America's failure to build more refineries -- as the hurricane damage drives up the price of gasoline.

 Some gloat that if the left had allowed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the nation's oil supply would not be an issue. And what about all those liberal Californians who drive SUVs?

 Say what you will, but all of the above arguments are a luxury. Alabama families are dredging water from their living rooms. In the Big Easy, women have had to wade through the nasty liquid clutching a few belongings.

 And for them, the big issues were: Where do I go? What will I do for work? Where is my dog? Did my neighbor make it? How long will I have to sleep in a shelter? Do I even want to go back to the town that I call home? They aren't stranded because of politics, SUVs or climate change. They are stranded because a planet that graces us with sunshine and warmth also makes storms.

 They are stranded because a powerful storm cut a swath through their universe. They thought they could handle it. They survived Camille, or some other storm, and they thought they'd be better off at home. They wanted to be near their families and their pets.

 They never knew it could get this bad. They had made the same choice before, and it worked for them.

 This time, what worked before failed. At times like this, Americans need to help each other.