Friday, September 30, 2005

It is inconceivable to me how a natural disaster could spark a virtual orgy in a political movement, but that seems to be precisely the effect of Hurricane Katrina on liberals.

Ever since President Bush took office, liberals have been rooting from one thing to another in a frenzied quest to find that one issue, one tragedy, one scandal that would bring him down. The list is too long to recite here.

Mr. Bush’s critics treat each of these issues, in turn, as the final straw that will break the back of this abominable presidency. Everything is blown out of proportion, every ambiguity resolved in President Bush’s disfavor, and every possible malevolent motive is attributed to him. The most innocuous events are treated as scandals. Hyperbole rules. Panic prevails. Conspiracy fantasies abound. Sober, balanced analysis is absent.

You would think the liberal cabal would have discredited itself by incessantly crying “wolf.” But with mainstream media megaphones always at their back, they march on.

But has their indignation no limit? Must everything be a 10-rated calamity (on a scale of 10)? Have they no ability to discriminate, to distinguish between the minor and the serious, the real and the contrived?

When anything occurs that has the remotest chance of damaging President Bush, they wail in unison, decrying this miserable, corrupt, “selected” president.

With Katrina, I smell an even greater blood lust, even more so than with our failure to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, and much more than Abu Ghraib or Gitmo. They seem to believe Katrina has real promise for finally exacting justice on Mr. Bush, the paragon of conservative insensitivity, poster boy for anti-intellectualism and hero of the uncultured.

There has been a new spring in their step since the New Orleans levees broke and they realized they could blame any tardiness in the federal response on racism. As one example, I refer to “Meet the Press,” of last Sunday, where Tim Russert interviewed three New York Times columnists, Thomas Friedman, Maureen Dowd and David Brooks.

After listening to Mr. Friedman and Miss Dowd, you would assume Katrina had ushered in some profound revelation about Mr. Bush that had caused a sea change in how we should view him from this point forward.

Whatever you may have believed about him before — assuming you were among the credulous who thought he might have redeeming qualities — you must now concede he’s a louse. Only the incorrigibly dense fail to realize his presidency is over.

He’s the lamest of lame ducks who will only be allowed to serve out his remaining term because — unfortunately — we don’t have a British-style parliamentary system under which we could dispatch him immediately with a vote of “No confidence.”

It’s as if they are saying, “Finally, the faux legitimacy President Bush has enjoyed since September 11, 2001, has ended. The masquerade is over. The jig is up. Everyone can see now that he’s the boob we’ve said he is, not the mature, crisis-managing executive he has pretended to be.”

Mr. Friedman said, “Well, I believe September 11 truly distorted our politics, Tim, and it gave the president and his advisers an opening to take a far-hard-right agenda, I believe, on taxes and other social issues, from September 10, that was not going anywhere from September 10, and drove it into a September 12 world. It put the wind at his back. And Katrina brought that to an end. It put the wind in his face.” Mr. Friedman then suggested President Bush’s only salvation would be through a “fundamental recasting of his position and his administration.” (Translation: He must act like a good liberal.)

I wouldn’t cite Mr. Friedman if his position were not representative of that of many liberal commentators and Democrat politicians, who act as if Democrats just won a major election. Either they’re deluding themselves or trying to fool the public into believing a national disaster has serendipitously vindicated their entire worldview. If anything, the opposite is true. While Katrina (and Rita) put a new financial strain on government, it hasn’t laid a glove on the conservative blueprint for our nation’s problems.

Despite their premature celebrations, Mr. Bush is unlikely to be buried or deterred by all the anticipatory obituaries from his leftist critics, who have grossly underestimated him before. Katrina notwithstanding, he has a spate of unfinished, conservative agenda items to pursue (and, if we’re lucky, liberal ones to scrap). On the bright side for the Bush-haters, they have more than three years to bask in their rage.

David Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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