Good Grief

Published: September 19, 2005

The president is Lucy, and he's holding a football. We're Charlie Brown.

---the rest of the article is excellent and worth reading, but in this case, if you only read the lead, you know the whole story.

In an eerily lit, nationally televised appearance outside the historic St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, President Bush promised the world to the Gulf Coast residents whose lives were upended by Hurricane Katrina...

"Throughout the area hit by the hurricane," said Mr. Bush, "we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives."

The country has put its faith in Mr. Bush many times before, and come up empty. It may be cynical, but my guess is that if we believe him again this time, we're going to end up on our collective keisters, just like Charlie Brown, who could never stop himself from kicking mightily at empty space, which was all that was left each time Lucy snatched the ball away...

But Mr. Bush's new post-Katrina persona defies belief. The same man .. now suddenly emerges from the larva of his ineptitude to present himself as - well, nothing short of enlightened.

Not only was he proposing a Gulf Coast Marshall Plan, but he was declaring, in words that made his conservative followers gasp, that poverty in the U.S. "has roots in a history of racial discrimination which cut off generations from the opportunity of America."

If you were listening to the radio, you might have thought you were hearing the ghost of Lyndon Johnson. "We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action," said Mr. Bush.

He was being Lucy again, enticing us with the football...

You can believe that he's suddenly worried about poor people if you want to. What is more likely is that his reference to racism and poverty was just another opportunistic Karl Rove moment, never to be acted upon.

Charlie Brown's sister, Sally, once asked how often someone could be fooled with the same trick. She answered her own question: "Pretty often, huh?"

And all I can say is that old line: OH LUCY -- YOU'RE IN TROUBLE NOW."

Or as they say in the world of stage sets and lighting and camera angles and imitation reality:

"Be careful the asses you kick on the way up -- they're the same ones you have to kiss on the way down."

Pucker up, Monkey Boy.


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