It’s called accountability

Do you ever tire of the propaganda?

There’s Bush in New Orleans, with rock-star lights on Jackson Square, camouflage hiding the deserted streets from the camera’s view and careful wardrobe choices.

“Should he wear a jacket and tie?” “No tie, he should look like he just hopped off a boat, just back from rescuing small children and kitties.”

“A blue shirt, then, to show allegiance with workers, top button undone.”

A nauseating spectacle—the prez trying to pull approval ratings out of the can with yet another staged public relations event.

In May 2003, Bush landed aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, spiffy in his flight suit, prematurely ejaculating “mission accomplished” in Iraq. The media crooned over the stunt—"picture-perfect landing,” slobbered CNN—and reminded us that Bush was a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard.

Of course, he didn’t show up for Guard duty on and off—once disappearing for a whole year. Rich kids don’t have to follow the rules.

Given our capacity for swallowing steaming piles, it’s not surprising that our leaders don’t have to possess leadership abilities—just a hot-damn PR team. A limitless bank account helps. Bush has one. Our tax dollars.

Wait. I’m not supposed to play the “blame game.” Or so say the same people who demand accountability from underpaid public school teachers and welfare mothers.

But I want an answer for how my money is being spent in Washington. And so should you.

Preparedness, as those stocking up on MREs at Twin City Surplus know, costs. Most of the people trapped by the hurricane and subsequent levee breach didn’t have the money ("legacy of inequality,” anyone?) to stockpile supplies or charter a bus.

Unlike state and local governments, the federal government doesn’t have to balance its budget—so it doesn’t have to run out of buses, helicopters, MREs or water. It has infinite supplies of dough (loaned from China and Saudi Arabia) for spending on war, corporate welfare and awarding lucrative construction contracts to Friends of the Big Cheesies.

So let’s play the blame game. Please, let’s play it. Surely, an ounce of prevention—keeping the levees in functioning condition—would have been well worth the cost of rebuilding New Orleans. Also, a scientific study released last week points to the increasing strength of hurricanes due to higher ocean temperatures, and, ta-dum, global warming—the reality that sends Bush into the corner, hands over ears and eyes pinched shut, mumbling, “Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah.”

So many questions. What, too much trouble to send a fleet of buses to the city on Sunday, Aug. 28, when forecasters pegged this storm as a killer? Too much of an imposition to airlift water into New Orleans when the National Weather Service had predicted before the storm that “water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards"?

Of course, Katrina’s impact did stall embarrassing questions about Iraq. Last week was one of the bloodiest in Iraq since the war began—with 200 Iraqis dead and 600 wounded. This barely made headlines.

Promises of aid? Sure, now Bush can spend another $62.3 to $200 billion, give or take, “helping” the people of New Orleans. “Ending the legacy of inequality” sounds terrific. But if Bush really cared about people, would he suspend prevailing wage rules for government contractors so that construction firms can make a killing while paying laborers—some of whom may have lost everything—substandard wages?

And who’ll pay for this rebuilding? With no tax increases, there’ll surely be cuts to Medicare, food stamps and Section 8 housing.

Bush, in a glowing moment, said he’d take responsibility for the New Orleans response snafu. Pardon me if I sound jaded, but why should we think of this as anything other than another PR move?