BARNSTORMING 

COME TO JESUS

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.”

 

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