President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
With a little fat man with a note-pad in his hand.
The President say, "Little fat man isn't it a shame
What the river has done to this poor cracker's land?"
I sat in the Hard Times Cafe Friday, eating a chilli dog, listening to Johnny Cash on the juke box and watching live coverage of the Katrina aftermath on one of the cable news channels.
It was right after President Bush finally made it to the Gulf Coast — five long, painful days after Katrina's visit. I watched on TV as the first National Guard convoys rolled in. Giant trucks, in water up to their windshields, moving slowly and cautiously through the mix of Mississippi, sewage, and toxic chemicals.
They rolled toward the Convention Center where thousands of people had been trapped for days, surrounded by the tide that kept this convoy to a crawl.
I wondered about the timing. But then I'm cynical.
I wondered how thousands of people, trapped by this toxic tide were finally getting help, just minutes after President Bush flew overhead. How people had begged for help, demanded help for five days — then President Bush shows up. Five days after the hurricane, the President declared that the response was slow. Suddenly things get snapping.
It would have been great political theatre — if so many Americans weren't tired of the show.
History Fails to Repeat Itself
President Bush will probably always be remembered as the President with the bullhorn (right) — standing in the rubble of 9/11, shakily speaking to firefighters at "Ground Zero" and finding his voice as he declared "I hear you" and promising "the whole world will hear you."
That, too, was political theatre — though it was improvisation. It was unexpected, it just happened. And the thing about improv — you can tell when it's rehearsed. That's what the Gulf coast photo ops looked like.