Fighting Back

President Bush, facing blistering criticism for his administration's response to Hurricane Katrina, said Friday, Sept. 2, 2005, "the results are not acceptable" and pledged to bolster relief efforts with a personal trip to the Gulf Coast. Bush made the statement[as he left the White House for a tour of the hurricane ravaged area. CBS/AP

This column was written by William F. Buckley Jr.
A joke I laughed at 50 years ago features a man who at the end of the first race was up 200. At the end of the fifth race, up $20,000. At the end of the eighth, he is -- wiped out. He makes his disconsolate, infuriated way to the parking lot and on the walkway passes by a stranger who is bent over, fastening a shoelace. The hapless bettor aims a furious roundhouse kick, sprawling his victim on the ground. "Whaddaya do that for?" the shocked stranger says angrily from the ground.

He is answered, "You're always tying your shoelace!"

A lead columnist in the New York Times explains the real meaning of the Katrina catastrophe.

Poverty.

Mr. Nicholas Kristof tells us that the infant mortality rate in America's capital is twice as high as in China's capital. "Under Mr. Bush, the national infant mortality rate has risen for the first time since 1958. The U.S. ranks 43rd in the world in infant morality. So" -- Reader: brace yourself -- "in some ways the poor children evacuated from New Orleans are the lucky ones because they may now get checkups and vaccinations."

The social diagnostician gets right to the meat of what Mr. Bush did to generate the horrors of New Orleans. The Bush administration "has systematically cut people out of the social fabric by redistributing wealth from the most vulnerable Americans to the most affluent. It's not just that funds may have gone to Iraq rather than to the levees in New Orleans; it's also that money went to tax cuts for the wealthiest rather than vaccinations for children."

That diagnosis is so drenched in balderdash it almost defies analysis. Let it rest that gross spending under Bush, and excluding Iraq, is the highest in U.S. history. And if New Orleans was short of vaccinations, why didn't the Democratic mayor, congressmen, and governor complain about it?

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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