Friday, September 16, 2005

More Than Words

Mr. Big Government: "Will the real George W. Bush please stand up?

Several of the key points in President Bush's nationally televised speech last night are being widely welcomed this morning: His vow to rebuild the Gulf Coast, his increasingly direct acknowledgment that there were serious government lapses after Hurricane Katrina, his admission that Americans can and should expect a more effective response to catastrophes in the post 9/11 era.

But the guts of the speech -- in which Bush unfurled his administration's grand plans for the biggest government-funded reconstruction effort in history -- has led to considerable skepticism, if not outright puzzlement, on both sides of the political divide.

Consider two of the more extreme possibilities:

* Either Bush is being entirely forthright, in which case he's talking about something reminiscent of the biggest liberal government programs of the 20th century. That scares some conservatives, certainly fiscal conservatives, to death.

* Or maybe it's just a plan to transform the Gulf Coast into a big test bed for conservative social policy, where tax breaks flow to big business and tax money flows to Halliburton, churches and private schools. That utterly terrifies liberals.

The argument that the administration will consider conservative ideological gains as a paramount consideration certainly gains credence when you consider, as I wrote in yesterday's column , that the White House's chief political strategist, Karl Rove, has apparently been put in charge of reconstruction plans.

But there is nothing remotely reminiscent of Bush's traditional small-government rhetoric about a plan estimated to cost taxpayers at least $200 billion."

Last night the president said what I wanted to hear. Why would I still be unsatisfied and worried? Because, It will take more than a speech designed to minimize damage to his image to change my perception that this administration is willing to say anything for short term political gain regardless of truth and reality.

The first question that comes to mind is. Where is the money going to come from? where are the mechanism to guarantee that all that money will be well spent? Will the Halliburtons once more capitalize on the situation? Who will be held accountable?

Growing deficit, war in iraq, rising gas prices. These realities can not be conjured away with words. They require truthful an effective administration, something I will beleive after seen it in action with more than words.

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