Call It Patience

John Cole:

They would be wise to remember that the American public is, by and large, pretty patient with their President, and it was not until the middle of 2005 that Bush saw his approval ratings begin to plummet, with the bottom falling out during Katrina. That is right- a majority of the country put up with everything until they saw video of their countrymen drowning in New Orleans- I would call that patience, and I remember it well.

John is being very generous here. I wouldn’t call it patience. I would call it being unable to give two shits about anybody who doesn’t look like them and doesn’t live next door. So long as it was brown people in countries we didn’t have to think about, people who dresed funny and spoke some kind of crazy moon-man language and prayed five times a day nobody gave a damn who got killed or how bloody it was. So long as it was a coffin we could drape in a flag and sing a song about, and not too many of them, as if one was okay and two not so bad, everybody was fine with it. There is nothing — let me repeat this for the slow among us —nothing admirable about suddenly waking up to the idea that something that has sucked for years actually sucks, and I wouldn’t call it patience.

The public was not patient with him in 2004; the press was patient. The punditry that characterized him as our manly protector and wanked all day long about “security moms” was the same punditry that would have pilloried a Democrat whose approval ratings wereat 41 percent. A majority of the country thought Bush sucked and his war sucked and the country was starting to suck too. That John Kerry windsurfed and drank green tea, though, that was what was important. Bush hugged a little girl and made her feel safe! Keep up!

I wouldn’t call the way people treated George W. Bush’s government before Katrina patience. I would call it privilege. I would call it oblivousness. I would call it deliberate ignorance of the rest of the world nurtured by a political culture of anti-intellectualism and deliberate obfuscation. Moreover, I would call it callousness. I would also call it repulsive. I would call it horrific. I would call it monstrous. I would call it a million things, and only stop there because the English language only has so many curses, but I wouldn’t call it patience.

(And not for nothing, but plenty of time and conservative ink was spilled trying to convince America that the people who drowned and died on the Gulf Coast weren’t like us either, and therefore were unworthy of our consideration, and should be shoved away in the corners of our brains where we were sticking Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and frankly 2/3 of everybody who was struggling every damn day anyway. That it didn’t work entirely doesn’t mean they didn’t try it.)

If the public was patient with George W. Bush at all it was for the first month or so after 9/11. Shit, even I was patient then. I looked at this shaved chimp in a shitty suit and said, “Okay, buddy, let’s see how you do this.” Hell, it’s not like history’s short on stories about feckless halfwit princes who rise up and become the leaders the times demand. I was willing to concede, despite all evidence until that point that Bush was kind of a dick, the possibility of his overcoming. Lots of other people were, too.

That was fear, though. That wasn’t patience either.


6 thoughts on “Call It Patience

  1. A…
    Great post! Especially this part:the public was not patient with him in 2004; the press was patient.
    Boy howdy were they patient. Almostcompliant. Does anyone think that Bush would still have won the 2004 election if it was known that his mal-Administration had beenwiretapping U.S. citizens from the very beginning? Or if wassecretly torturing prisoners in “Black Sites” all the whiledenying it. Apparently, theNew York Times thought so; they made sure to spike Risen’s scoop on wiretapping until well after Bush’s second inaugural.
    Major media organizations were complicit in allowing the Bush Administration to continue to break U.S. laws without calling them on it. They were also complicit in extending a second term to these outlaws.
    And we’ll soon see that whether they go after the new administration with a vengeance. To me, that’s a pretty safe bet.

  2. The blogosphere is on fire today. This is about the 4th post I’ve read that has kicked royal ass.
    Well done!

  3. Living in still-unfortunately-red Missouri, the southern (read: stupid) part, the southeast (read: Rush Limbaugh is the Oracle) part, the prevailing attitude among the Jeebus-boggled masses is that anything other than slavish devotion to conservative orthodoxy is “liberal media bias.” Thus, Katie Couric was liberally biased for asking Sarah Failin to actually name a periodical that she read. CNN is liberally biased for occasionally making pretenses toward objectivity. The key to Bush’s 2004 election was the constant accusations of “liberal bias” toward any media outlet that attempted to tell the truth about Bush’s record, or Kerry’s, for that matter. The media, fearing criticism of bias, failed to tell the truth about Kerry’s war record and allowed the Swift Boaters to recast the reality of the campaign. Of course, Kerry was culpable in believing the majority of Americans had a brain capable of critical thinking. This time around, the difference was an Obama campaign willing to fight back on smears and lies, which allowed the non-insane branches of the media to at least report, “The Obama campaign denies this and says that.” Just so you know, the conservative fundie lunatics are already oozing out of the woodwork to slam Obama at every turn. Bipartisan ship is lost on this crowd; they MUST be marginalized and ridiculed out of existence.

  4. It wan’t just conservative pundits smearing Katrina victims; a substantial number of US citizens felt compelled to comment on how lazy and useless these whiners were. It went on and on, and it most certainly DID work, at least for a certain conservative subgroup.
    Many, many people did help, and many came on their own and volunteered. But those of us who live in south Louisiana remember, and hackles raise when we read about how everyone thought the response was so terrible — not at the time, you fuckers didn’t (present company excepted; I’m speaking in very general terms).
    As pretty as it may be to think so, I don’t think it’s true that it was the federal Katrina response that soured people on Bush. I think the AMERICAN response (including right-wing commentary) soured a lot of people on the country’s direction, and I think the war (specifically Abu Ghraib) is what wore Bush down.
    I’m still extremely bitter about the national response to Karina (and Rita and Gustav and Ike), and my bitterness doesn’t stop at the federal government. God bless everyone who helped, or even offered sympathy. God damn anyone who wished us into the sea, or sneered at rebuilding, or laughed at our pain.

Comments are closed.