Case in point: Last week, at long last, President Bush won some praise in many quarters, French and otherwise, for his having explicitly raised the problem of poverty, often race-based, as a big contributor to the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina.
Bush told us in his prime-time audience: "We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action."
"Finally!" we bleeding-heart types rejoiced, "The Right has gotten the message that we on the Left have been preaching -- from street corners and weblogs to TV and DC, for as long as anyone alive can remember -- that we're all in the same boat together, whether on the swamp that had once been and would one day again be the Big Easy or aboard the ship of state sailing upon the currents of history. People helping people -- Americans helping Americans -- is what made this country great and would re-build the Gulf Coast to its former greatness. Government can be part of the solution, more than the problem, in rebuilding the zone of national disaster and in confronting the national disgrace of poverty."
But not so fast. It's one thing to talk about working to end chronic poverty; it's another thing entirely to pay for it...and the hundreds of billions of federal dollars that will be required so that the South, the deep South, will rise again.
Enough to make a grown fiscal conservative cry.
As Bush himself said, "there is no way to imagine America without New Orleans..."
So where then will come the hundreds of billions of dollars required to rebuild?
The very next day, Bush offered his solution to this most daunting of problems: "It's going to cost whatever it costs...But I'm confident we can handle it, and I'm confident we can handle our other priorities. It's going to mean that we're going to have to cut unnecessary spending."
Putting aside for the moment that that wouldn't even come close to freeing enough revenue to rebuild the Gulf Coast, we have to ask, wouldn't these cuts fall hardest upon the very poorest, the very ones our Great Leader professed to the nation he would do everything to help (while protecting the tax cuts benefiting the richest, who would be most able to help)?
Hypocrisy, thy name is Bush.
And this call of the Lame Duck, echoed throughout the halls of the Capitol by the truest of Right Wing believers, is already a dead duck, shot down by the masses who've watched the horrors for our people here at home as intently as they've watched the horrors for our people overseas.
According to the latest Gallup poll, 54% of Americans believe we should cut our spending on Iraq to pay for our spending on the Gulf Coast; only 6% of Americans believe we should pay for the reconstruction by cutting domestic spending (Almost equal numbers, about 15 or 17%, believe we should pay for the rebuilding by deficit-spending or tax increases).
In effect, most Americans are following the lead of the Cindy Sheehans of this world; only a handful, the leadership of the President and his Grand Old Party.
And all the King's horses, and all the King's men (including overseer of reconstruction, none other than Karl Rove), couldn't put the King's reputation together again.