Friday, September 02, 2005

Let Them Buy Shoes

One of the hard things about being a politician is that you get blamed for a lot of stuff outside your control. There has been a lot of piling on the Bush administration for the New Orleans disaster - the cutting of the plans for shoring up the levee's, the lack of National Guard troops because of Iraq etc. and etc. Some of this criticism is very warranted and of actions directly in their control. Some criticism may be about things that were very complicated and is a more systemic problem.

But there is one thing over which they have absolute and undeniable control - how they personally react to the situation and how they choose to be seen in that reaction. For a large part, this is the function of a leader - when all hell breaks loose, the people want to look to somebody with a level head who is going to do something. Giuliani may not have really done a lot in actual and effective terms in the hours and days after 9/11, but he was there on the streets as a symbol. Bush staying on vacation and then cutting short his vacation to look out the window on the way to Washington is an abysmal symbol when the federal government's reaction has been atrocious.

Then there is this. Condi Rice in the spirit of Imelda Marcos, Marie Antoinette and several lovable Roman Emperors decided that the time of a national disaster was the best time to get some shoes (from Gawker): the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes .... A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.
I mean, this is cluelessness on a galactic scale. Unless it was a carefully crafted political statement by Rove et al. I mean, what else could tell the disenfranchised (which your actions actually have literally disenfranchised) that they are so beneath notice in their little, poverty ridden, flooded Democratic city that we'll just go shopping for shoes, la la la...Hey, do I see a fire over there? Let's do some fiddlin', Yee-haw!


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