Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pressing Congress

The headline says: Bush Presses Congress for Billions for La., but the article belies the strength of that press.  As it says: “President Bush, visiting a still-suffering Gulf Coast, said Wednesday that Congress must help this ravaged city recover from Hurricane Katrina by approving billions he has requested for levee repair and compensation for Louisianans who lost homes.”

Now, call me cynical, but I’m not sure if New Orleans is the best place to “press” Congress from.  I mean, he lives in the same damn town as Congress, and yet he has to travel all the way to New Orleans to get them to do what he wants?  Is that how he normally gets things done?  No phone calls from Rove or some other high-powered staffer.  They don’t lay down the smack or sweeten the pot with campaign bribery?  When he wanted the prescription Medicare plan or more taxcuts or Social Security Privatization, he traveled halfway across the country and made a generic plea to Congress?  This is his idea of a strong appeal?  He can’t even threaten to make them go hunting with Cheney?  He can only give a half-assed appeal that our Congressmen will only see in the news?  Again, call me cynical, but I sort of suspect that Bush has a different way of getting things that he really wants.  And that he just relies on these news-based appeals when he wants the appearance of pressing Congress, without actually having to press Congress.

Hell, if I really wanted to be cynical, I might even suggest that the whole trip was just a photo-op.  To make Bush look like he’s doing something, to make up for the fact that he’s not really doing much of anything and totally screwed it up in the first place.  The whole article was about him going around New Orleans, repeating things that he says he’s done and what he’d like to see done.  But not really about him doing anything.

And an interesting sidenote: The article didn’t mention it, but the Bush lines that it quotes came from a speech that he delivered, followed by one by Laura Bush.  Reading the article, I had kind of thought these were impromptu things he had said while traveling around New Orleans.  But this was a prepared speech, which naturally was written by someone else.  And I only discovered that when I looked up a quote from the article and saw an actual transcript of the speech.  Maybe it doesn’t make a difference, but I do kind of think that people should know whether they’re reading a prepared speech or not.

Ahh, but lest you think the liberal media was getting soft on Bush, they included this bit of doubt in the second to the last paragraph: “Independent experts have accused the Corps of taking shortcuts to rebuild the levees quickly and of using materials that could leave large sections of the system significantly weaker than before Katrina. Strock denied the allegations.”

Well then, that takes care of that.  Sure, we didn’t learn who those experts were or what the basis of their accusations are.  But after all, this was an article about Bush heading to the Gulf Coast, and about what he says he’s doing to fix things; and not an article about what he’s actually doing there.  So I think that the AP did more than enough simply by stating that there is some disagreement.

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