Bush, the Republicans, and New Orleans 

Bush, the Republicans, and New Orleans

On the one hand, to give Bush credit, he probably doesn't have a racist bone in his body. Everything he says about Mexican immigration indicates that, along with his working relationships with Rice and Powell. It just doesn't look like tokenism. Powell was never really one of the inner circle, and he was eventually more or less fired as a scapegoat--probably to some extent for disloyally giving the impression that except for him, the grown-ups weren't in charge. Rice has had a distinguished career, and she has won the President's trust--as Kissinger did earlier.

So the idea that Bush and the Republicans are prepared to neglect blacks in particular, somehow in addition to the poor in general, or with a special animus, doesn't seem to hold up. That they are prepared to neglect the poor in general--and let markets, states, municipalities, those wasteful old Democratic programs that exist somewhere, somehow all together take care of things--I think there is no doubt at all.

Jonah Goldberg seems to admit that thousands of Republican after-dinner speeches could lead exactly to a federal government that is unable to cope with Katrina (via Kevin Drum). He says what disappoints him most is that Republicans in Congress turn out to have their own favourite wasteful spending, to make up for the Democrats' wasteful spending. He would like to cut the wasteful spending that has recently been authorized by Republicans, and use it for Katrina. But that means a "Goldberg" Congress would probably cut taxes even more, and have far less federal spending of any kind available.

In a way New Orleans was, and may be again, a Republican paradise. Lots of talk about social issues, and even some genuine concern and action on the conservative side. Strong evangelical churches, and the old Roman Catholic church still in evidence, at least as much as in Boston. But: low taxes, an almost unbelievably inefficent public sector which everyone openly jokes about, and every kind of prostitution available on the street. Oh, sorry, the Republican paradise is Branson, Missouri. This might lead back to my riff about people who prefer music that "sounds white," even if it comes out of the rich soup of American roots music, constantly fusing white and black influences.

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