The scales are falling away from a lot of eyes as many diehard Bushies are beginning to understand a certain Messianic admonition to beware the wolves who cover their naked ambitions with designer sheepskins. What brought about this change? Hurricane Katrina was certainly the catalyst, but the answer is--perhaps-- a bit more metaphysical.

I’ll try to wrap up quickly, but this is an epic story about a war on reality: a battle pitting image, against image and icon against icon.

From the beginning BushCo has controlled its public image by carefully manipulating all associated images. Some examples: covering “naked Justice;” covering Picasso’s Guernica; the endless repetition of “9/11”; conflating Saddam with Osama; embedding journalists to make them indebted to and dependant on the troops; Shock & Awe; fabricating heroes; toppling Saddam’s statue; destroying an embarrassing mural of George H.W. Bush in Baghdad; forbidding the media to photograph returning coffins, or body bags; loyalty oaths; 1st-Ammendment-zones; and the careful staging one faked-up photo-op after another. Of course the mass-mediated world is too kaleidoscopic to be tamed and you can't stifle every story or control every image. But when you’re an expert divider operating under the guise of a compassionate uniter total control isn't necessary. To cast their magic spell BushCo only had to transform “the debate” over “debatable realities” into THE ONLY REALITY: to establish a logical system of support for the infamous query,” Who you gonna believe, me, or your lyin’ eyes?”: To keep a lazy, convenience-spoiled, and ferociously DIVIDED nation fighting tooth and claw to determine what the meaning of the word “is” is.

And along came Katrina, and—as they say—EVERYTHING CHANGED.

This wasn’t a Tsunami on the other side of the globe where some rubble-strewn photos, and a whole lot of cash flung in the right direction can unite freedom-loving Americans in a rousing chorus of, “We Are the World.” This is our back yard, and it’s pretty hard to spin away the Mayor of New Atlantis breaking down and asking, “Where's the Goddamn support?”

Bush was on vacation when Katrina hit. When the levees broke and bodies started floating in the streets Vice President Cheney was also on some sort of double secret non-vacation vacation in Wyoming. Condi, on the other hand, was tripping the light fantastic in New York, catching up on her Broadway musicals, and buying $1000 shoes.

Last week Bush, answering to criticism over his refusal to meet with Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a U.S. soldier killed Iraq, told the press, “It's important for me to go on with my life.”

As New Orleans plunged into a nightmare scenario beyond Irwin Allen’s wildest imaginings, the President proved he was a man of his word by flying around the country talking up policy, and the war in Iraq.

You can’t deny or trivialize a sunken city and a million homegrown refugees with a story to tell. You can’t bring Ann Coulter in to say, “Those Cajuns are whiney little wimps who got what they deserved.”

Our nation’s ability to respond quickly and efficiently to catastrophe is no longer an abstract talking point.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now leaving virtual reality.

No misunderstandings, please. I don’t see this tragedy as some sort of grand political victory—at least not the kind that any sane, compassionate person could ever celebrate. Still, I’m inclined to spill a dram on the ground, and call the piper: “Dixie, please… to a Dixieland beat.”


Want to respond? Send us an email here.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • Whistle-Blower’s Crime

      The current inquiry into possible Trump campaign misdeeds recalls a long-gone bit of personal history.
    • The “Fake News”

      Trump’s vilification of the media sounds familiar.
    • Trumpcare?

      Ideology meets reality as Republicans struggle to “repeal and replace” Obamacare.


News Blog

Alexander to TVA: Don't Buy Wind Power

Intermission Impossible

Hattiloo Announces Season 12: August Wilson, Lynn Nottage, Soul Train...

News Blog

Memphis Theological Seminary Stands with Refugees

News Blog

Fight Over Forrest Statue Isn't Over

Fly On The Wall Blog

Remembering the "Miracle Child" Robert Raiford

Memphis Gaydar

Bathroom Bill Halted in TN Legislature

News Blog

RIP Robert Raiford

News Blog

Memphis Pets of the Week (March 23-29)


Readers also liked…

  • Memphis’ Central Park

    The Memphis Zoo/Overton Park controversy is really about the right of Memphians to craft their environment.
    • Feb 4, 2016
  • A Letter to the Memphis City Council

    The council gets an “F” for its performance on the Greensward decision.
    • Mar 10, 2016
  • Pay the Band

    Why we should be supporting proposed national music initiatives in Congress.
    • Aug 10, 2015
© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation