During President Bush’s lengthy press conference Monday morning, the topic of relief for Hurricane Katrina victims came up, and he was asked by a reporter what he would be “giving to the nation on the issue of race” in 2006. His reply was telling…and slightly desperate: “One of the jobs of the president is to help people reconcile and to move forward, united. One of the most hurtful things I can hear is, you know, Bush doesn’t care about African-Americans. First of all, it’s not true. And secondly, I am — I believe that — you know, obviously I’ve got to do a better job of communicating, I guess, to certain folks. Because my job is to say to people, we’re all equally American, and the American opportunity applies to you just as much as somebody else. And so I will continue to do my best to reach out.”
Advice to the President: Don’t bother.
It’s futile to “reach out” to people who are slapping away your hands, who are convinced that your administration, and you yourself, are engaged in genocidal conspiracies against them, and who have so far departed from standards of rational discourse that they cannot be convinced otherwise.
Evidence that this is indeed the state of mind of many African Americans, and specifically of victims of Hurricane Katrina, came earlier this month at a special congressional hearing called by Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.). It was perhaps the most ludicrous performance by a panel of witnesses ever entered into the Congressional Record; it made the finger-pointing blather of the baseball steroid hearings seem like a Lincoln-Douglas debate. Yet it passed with nary a word of public outrage. On the contrary, the night of the spectacle, ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas asserted with a straight face that the witnesses “were brought in front of Congress today so that the voiceless could be heard.” NBC anchor Brian Williams solemnly intoned that “a special House committee heard emotional testimony from Katrina survivors who insisted racism was a big factor in the government’s slow response to the disaster.” And CBS anchor Bob Schieffer spat in the face of honest reportage, singling out the most embarrassing of all the witnesses, a rambling, ranting piece of work named Dyan “Mama D” French, and insisting, “Congress isn’t likely to forget her. She gave them an earful today.”
But an earful of what?
“We ain’t going nowhere,” Mama D told Congress. “Roaches and black folks, they’ve been trying to exterminate, eliminate us. We still there. We plan to be there.”
She was just getting warmed up.
“I was on my front porch,” Mama D declared. “I have witnesses that they bombed the walls of the levee.”
When Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) began questioning her on the specifics of the allegation — whether she’d witnessed the bombing herself, how far she lived from the levee — and reminded her that she was under oath, Mama D switched into full soothsaying mode, her voice rising and falling like a Shakespearian crone, her sentences incoherent but rife with dire warning, her eyes intermittently focused:
“Mister, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m 62, and I have to talk the way I talk. I’m Phi Beta Kappa too. But I have to talk the way I talk. There was a military person in my house, somebody who served his country well. When we started looking at the — BOOM! BOOM! Mister, I’ll never forget it. He said, ‘Mama D, that was a bomb.’”
But Shays persisted: “Can you see the levee from your house?”
“I haven’t looked for it. I’m still looking for dead people.”
“Can you see the levee from your house?
“Are you familiar with New Orleans?”
“So far I’ve asked you two questions and you’ve been very unresponsive.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?