Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bush Speech: All About Image

Dubya is scheduled to speak to the nation on prime-time television tonight. It will be, as usual with Dubya, a carefully choreographed event. No live audience is planned (wouldn't want anyone who disagrees to be in shouting distance) and even the media have been told they won't be allowed to stray from their vans.

I find this report from Nedra Pickler interesting:

It is Bush's first formal prime-time speech during more than two weeks of suffering along the Gulf, with most of the victims chased out by floodwaters in New Orleans. Bush planned to speak from the heart of the French Quarter, while across the city officials were still working to pump out waters and collect bodies left behind.

Bush planned to show sympathy for the misery brought on by the killer storm while charting a hopeful vision for the future. Many people, including members of the president's party, have said he should have given that kind of speech soon after the hurricane made landfall along the coast on Aug. 29. . . .

Rather than speak before a live audience, Bush planned to stand alone and broadcast his message directly into the camera from the evacuated city's historic Jackson Square, according to a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity since the site had not been announced.

The square and its most famed landmark, the St. Louis Cathedral, were on high enough ground to avoid flooding but did not escape damage from Katrina's 145-mph winds. Two massive oak trees outside the 278-year-old cathedral came out by the roots, ripping out a 30-foot section of ornamental iron fence and snapping off the thumb and forefinger of the outstretched hand on a marble statue of Jesus.

Once again, Dubya is all about the image. Jackson Square, including the St. Louis Cathedral, is one of the oldest sites in New Orleans. It's in the historic French Quarter, it's the spiritual and cultural center of the city. It's also on relatively high ground these days.

What I'd really like to see is for at least one of the networks to have the courage to do a split screen with Bush on one side and images of the parts of New Orleans still under water on the other.

Editorializing? You bet. But what is Bush's speech if not propaganda? Dubya is concerned about his image, not about New Orleans. He's concerned about the hits he's taken in the polls because of the slow response to Katrina. As noted at AmericaBlog:
Giving a few well choreographed speeches won't change the fact that Bush stayed on vacation while parts of our country were being wiped out. Spinning the media won't change the fact that this country is not safe under the leadership of George Bush. Running a smear campaign won't change the fact that George Bush is a failed President.

America can do better than George W. Bush.