George W. Bush

The poor matter.

From the Washington Post, a New Orleans resident:

"To me," said Bernadette Washington, "it just seems like black people are marked. We have so many troubles and problems."

And black people have a President who is not only responsible for creating many of these problems, he patently doesn't care about the people or the problems.

Van Jones has a piece on HuffPost about the politics of race in this disaster. To sum up: black people are getting screwed. Again.

In a second post on HuffPost, the brilliant Mr. Jones goes further:

Poor people and Black people didn't "choose to stay behind." They were left behind. All evacuation plans required the city's residents to have working, private cars -- plus gas money, nearby relatives or funds for a hotel stay. And if you didn't have all those things, tough luck.

Had the responsible agencies valued the lives of the poor, they would have helped the destitute flee in the face of the hurricane -- even those who couldn't afford a car or a motel room. But when the "face of suffering" is Black, somehow our high standards for effective action and compassion begin to sag.

Of course, seeing this, Bush could have taken a strong stand for the poor and the suffering. But his half-hearted, emotionally flat statement on Wednesday did little to rally the nation. It seems that, as long as "the terrorists" didn't do it, Bush just can't get himself too worked up about Americans dying by the hundreds.


We must not be afraid to speak that truth. Some will say that this is no time for playing the "blame game." No time for engaging in "divisive politics."

Pardon me. To the contrary: this is exactly the time to draw a clear line of distinction between those of us who have always fought to invest in this country -- and those who happily squandered the national treasure on give-aways and imperial adventures. Between those of us who have long fought to protect the most vulnerable among us, and those who have worked feverishly to undo those protections.

This is no time for progressives to be hemmed in by some false "unity" with a President whose policies are largely to blame for this disaster. Too much is at stake, going forward.

In the short term, we must exert maximum pressure on the federal government to pull out all stops to rescue people and re-establish peace and good order. And in the weeks to come, we must demand an immediate repeal of the tax cuts -- to enable a massive investment for rebuilding New Orleans and repairing the nation's crumbling infrastructure. Also, any Louisiana and Mississippi guardsmen who want to return home from Iraq to aid their statesmen should be allowed to do so.

The truth is that the poor people of Louisiana were deliberately left behind -- and not just over the weekend. Our political leaders as a class -- and George W. Bush, in particular -- left them behind a long time ago.

"It just seems like black people are marked," said Mrs. Washington. Yes. Our "leadership" has marked black people as unimportant, as collateral damage, as looters and thieves. Wrong. One of the greatest American heroes of the 20th century was a black person, and we can be sure that, were he alive today, Dr. King would have been in New Orleans days ago helping to bail people out, not picking a guitar or going to see Spamalot.