The absurdity of Katrina as a metaphor

We have nothing to add to the substance of the Katrina discussion, but the style is priceless. Here’s Dan Balz in the WaPo:

A Bid to Repair a Presidency

The main text of President Bush’s nationally televised address last night was the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, but the clear subtext was the rebuilding of a presidency that is now at its lowest point ever, confronted by huge and simultaneous challenges at home and abroad — and facing a country divided along partisan and racial lines.

Hurricane Katrina struck at the core of Bush’s presidency by undermining the central assertion of his reelection campaign, that he was a strong and decisive leader who could keep the country safe in a crisis. Never again will the White House be able to point to his often-praised performance after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, without skeptics recalling the fumbling and slow-off-the-mark response of his administration after the hurricane and the flooding in New Orleans.

First of all, and most important, repairing New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is all about repairing New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. It is an absurd, offensive interpretation of Bush’s actions that they are primarily about Bush. But if that’s the way the MSM want it, so be it. They will reap what they sow.

Suppose, by mid-2008 — three years from now — New Orleans is as fine and dandy a city as was ever built by man, a jambalaya of commerce, bustle, sleaze, jazz, decadence and ease. Disneyland’s Main Street meets the Vegas Strip with a Creole and Cajun flavor. Imagine the GOP convention in this remade showcase metropolis, which, incidentally, Mayor Ray Nagin will be taking all kinds of credit for, and the deplorable Blanco will be ill-advised to try to sabotage — if she even lasts that long as governor.

How does your metaphor work then, Dan? No doubt the WaPo will be seeking out those cases of hardship or lingering suffering three years after Katrina, but, overall, the visuals won’t be terribly supportive of the Post’s underlying theme. And there is this: George Bush is not running in 2008.

Ridiculous as the Balz piece is, it does not take first prize in coverage of the Bush speech. That has to go to Reuters, which sought out for comment a man who has had no executive leadership of anything whatsoever in the last three decades or more:

“Leadership isn’t a speech or a toll-free number. Leadership is getting the job done. No American doubts that New Orleans will rise again, they doubt the competence and commitment of this administration,” Kerry said.

Well, thanks a lot, Senator Kerry. We await your comments three years from now when much of the job has in fact been done. Will you call it leadership then?

2 Responses to “The absurdity of Katrina as a metaphor”

  1. larwyn Says:

    Subj: Thomas Friedman of NYT’s wrote Bush Gulf Coast Education Plam
    Date: 9/16/05 5:20:15 PM Eastern Daylight Time
    From: Greerwynn
    To: Greerwynn

    Subj: Left furious/Thomas Friedman author? of Bush Gulf Coast Education Plan
    Date: 9/16/05 5:17:46 PM Eastern Daylight Time
    From: Greerwynn
    To: Greerwynn

    Subj: Making Lemonade:
    …………Friedman supports Bush’s plan for SCHOOL VOUCHERS!
    Date: 9/16/05

    The Left/Dems are already screaming that Bush, seeing the rebuilding
    of the Gulf Coast as an opportunity, would allow private entities to build
    the schools, and for the parents to be issued vouchers.

    A bit of making lemonade by those who believe in school choice.

    And now it looks as if Thomas Friedman of the NYT’s is responsible
    for this part of President George W. Bush’s plan to impove education
    in the Gulf States.

    This is an incredible leap for Mr. Friedman and the NYT’s editors
    and publishers. He better stay away from a certain catsuited
    red head known to slink the hall of the Grey Lady(?).

    Singapore is also known for public whippings for committing such
    horrors as throwing chewed gum on street. Think you can only
    get gum with RX.

    That would surely “focus the mind” of every student in every
    classroom in our land.

    Thomas must have missed the Internet Cafe where he might
    have picked this up and also, the arrest of bloggers.
    But it is wonderful – he will soon be considered to be another
    Rovian plant, just like Pelosi, out to trap the Dems..

    It almost looks as if Friedman helped to write the Bush plan. And
    Karl, using Friedman’s contacts, right now is recruiting education
    specialtists from the Singapore’s system to come over and
    set up new schools in the 90,000 sq miles of destruction that
    is now the Gulf Coast. Low interest loans and Fed Education
    Grants available.

    You be the judge, hasn’t Thomas Friedman giving his blessing
    to GW’s plan for education in some of worst of the worst school
    systems in this country.

    Poor Thomas!

    Still Eating Our Lunch

    Published: September 16, 2005
    SingaporeSingapore is a country that takes the Internet seriously. Last week its Ministry of Defense granted a deferment for the country’s compulsory National Service to a Singaporean teenager so he could finish competing in the finals of the World Cyber Games – the Olympics of online war games.Skip to next paragraph Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

    Being a tiny city-state of four million, Singapore is obsessed with nurturing every ounce of talent of every single citizen. That is why, although its fourth and eighth graders already score at the top of the Timss international math and science tests, Singapore has been introducing more innovations into schools. Its government understands that in a flattening world, where more and more jobs can go anywhere, it’s not enough to just stay ahead of its neighbors. It has to stay ahead of everyone – including us.Message to America: They are not racing us to the bottom. They are racing us to the top. As Low-Sim Ay Nar, principal of Xinmin Secondary School, explained to me, Singapore has got rote learning down cold. No one is going to outdrill her students. What it is now focusing on is how to develop more of America’s strength: getting Singaporean students and teachers to be more innovative and creative. “Numerical skills are very important,” she told me, but “I am now also encouraging my students to be creative – and empowering my teachers. … We have been loosening up and allowing people to grow their own ideas.” She added, “We have shifted the emphasis from content alone to making use of the content” on the principle that “knowledge can be created in the classroom and doesn’t just have to come from the teacher.”Toward that end, some Singapore schools have adopted a math teaching program called HeyMath, which was started four years ago in Chennai, India, by two young Indian bankers, Nirmala Sankaran and Harsh Rajan, in partnership with the Millennium Mathematics Project at Cambridge University.With a team of Indian, British and Chinese math and education specialists, the HeyMath group basically said to itself: If you were a parent anywhere in the world and you noticed that Singapore kids, or Indian kids or Chinese kids, were doing really well in math, wouldn’t you like to see the best textbooks, teaching and assessment tools, or the lesson plans that they were using to teach fractions to fourth graders or quadratic equations to 10th graders? And wouldn’t it be nice if one company then put all these best practices together with animation tools, and delivered them through the Internet so any teacher in the world could adopt or adapt them to his or her classroom? That’s HeyMath.”No matter what kind of school their kids go to, parents all over the world are worried that their kids might be missing something,” Mrs. Sankaran said. “For some it is the right rigor, for some it is creativity. There is no perfect system. … What we have tried to do is create a platform for the continuous sharing of the best practices for teaching math concepts

    ME: Sounds like School Choice and Teacher Choice to me. Thomas even
    wants to enlist a “PRIVATE COMPANY”
    (NEA will be picketing NYT’s as soon as they realize that Thomas Friedman
    has edited out the “not” & “unity” from these lines of Pelosi/Reid press release:

    “The Gulf Coast region does (not) deserve to be treated as a laboratory for political opportunism or ideological experimentation. Now is the time for (unity) big change*.”

    * implied from Thomas Friedman’s column.

    Aside: See how many Kerry/Tired Dem campaign lines you can find in this
    Pelosi/Reid statement.

    Thu Sep 15,10:06 PM ET
    To: National Desk
    Contact: Brendan Daly (Pelosi), 202-226-7616; Jim Manley (Reid), 202-224-2939

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ — House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement this evening:

    “The President offered comforting words tonight, but the victims of Hurricane Katrina don’t need just words, they need a plan that will lead the way in recovery, rebuilding, and renewal. We cannot change the past for the victims, but we can change their future and this unprecedented national disaster demands an unprecedented national response. It will take more than dollars to rebuild communities and that’s why we have offered a Marshall Plan to help families get back on their feet, back into homes, and back on the job.

    “It takes more than just taking responsibility to right the many wrongs that occurred over the past two weeks. The American people need answers from independent experts outside of the political arena to learn from the past and prepare and protect our nation and our communities for the future. We can and must do better.

    “This region of our nation deserves our support, our cooperation, and our sympathy. We are concerned by Bush Administration initiatives this week waiving wage protections, environmental safeguards, and protections for veterans, minorities, women, and the disabled. The Gulf Coast region does not deserve to be treated as a laboratory for political opportunism or ideological experimentation. Now is the time for unity. It is a source of sorrow to our nation that so many were left behind as the waters rose. We must now commit that none will be left behind as the waters recede.”

    Hope all will use their real talents to put in better words than my
    struggle – just wanted to give you the amazing dots here.

    What a gift!

  2. OhBloodyHell Says:

    I have to also offer this one, from ABC News after Bush’s speech. Please listen carefully to the tone of the questions asked, as well as the response to those questions, and the tone of the respondent…

    Don’t cheat, please — there’s a reason for this progression.

    Do you, by any chance, get the feeling the reporter was looking for certain answers or perhaps types of answers and wasn’t getting them?

    Now, read this one (the video clip above is from the link therein – it was the longer form of the excepted clip above which is being discussed)

    The above is, perhaps, not quite a full transcript, but appears to be almost so.

    Now, consider how you would describe the outlook of the people therein.

    It seems reasonable to presume that this should be at least a fairly representative sample of the refugees from NOLA, does it not? You can clearly see at least six people, presumably chosen by ABC at least somewhat at random for a live, on-camera interview, apparently from the Houston Astrodome.
    Now take a look at this report, from ABC:

    Don’t skip past it, please. Read it.

    Now, a simple question — does this story jibe with what you heard and saw in the preceding one? Would you not expect some mention of the responses that ABC found in their interview to appear in the reporting above?

    Does it sound to you as though the ABC web piece fits the tone and mood of their presumably random on-camera interview sample, or does it sound to you like they almost certainly went out expressly looking for bad quotes to cherry pick to frame the web piece in question, having decided beforehand what they were going to write?

    Doesn’t it seem rather odd that they went to the trouble to get people on camera to interview live, yet chose to totally ignore the responses of those same people – utterly, completely, ignore them — when it came to making the web piece?

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