The early reports on Rita’s fury show that a great deal of damage will have to be repaired, and that tens of thousands more families have been added onto the list of Americans in distress. Here’s Glenn’s list of charities. I’ll be sending a donation to Samaritan’s Purse today, and looking through the web to see if there is a congregation I can suggest to my own to partner with through their recovery. I am hoping that the Canal Street Presbyterian Church in New Orleans has been spared a second blow, but getting a handle on how deep the second flood is has been difficult.
The first surge of generosity in the aftermath of a disaster is almost automatic. Going to the same large hearts three weeks later will be more difficult, but no less urgent. Ed Brenegar has some great posts on this subject, and ReliefConnections.org has great resources for those affected by either storm.
The best bulletins seem to be coming from the Wall Street Journal’s StormTracker.
Now, about the president:
The Washington Post today runs another “low point of the presidency” piece, that argues the president “finds himself struggling to reclaim his swagger.”
The reporters start with their premise and then seek out folks who will agree with it, which is about par for reporting these days, and the approval rating is cited as the key bit of data.
There will certainly be nodding agreement from the left and supporters of the president will find that their criticisms of particulars of Administration policy are cited as evidence of collapsing support for W and his policies.
The confusing of genuine national gloom over the devastation on the Gulf, weariness over a second hurricane blow and the ongoing violence and loss of life in the GWOT with a political trend is the worst sort of analysis. Even six months from now, and certainly six years from now, September ’05 will be one of the crucial moments in the Bush presidency, but not because of his start down a long decline, but because of the elections in Afghanistan, the adoption of a draft Constitution in Iraq and its endorsement by the Ayatollah Sistani –the most crucial bit of news not widely absorbed this past week– the placement on the SCOTUS of another GOP Chief Justice, keeping the judiciary’s number one post in solid hands for many years to come, and a nomination to the Court yet to come will mark September ’05 as a month where difficult decisions made long ago began to show the sort of undeniable success that not even a partisan media could distort.
There have been ominous signs of policy failure this month, but it isn’t the fact that Anderson Cooper got hysterical or that the traffic jam out of Houston was a huge inconvenience to millions.
The ominous signs were yesterday’s truck explosion in Gaza, undeniable evidence that Hamas is intent on turning that region into a giant weapons factory, and an earlier warning from the head of Israeli domestic intelligence that Al Qaeda was intent on nesting in Gaza.
October 15’s vote in Iraq is a huge day in the near future, as will be the day the president names his next nominee. There is little that America can do to influence the vote on the 15th except secure the roads that day and provide the purple ink. If the Iraqi constitution is adopted, it won’t matter whether Ray Nagin spends a month denouncing the president. If it fails, the weariness in this country will get worse because the insurgents will get a second wind and a second reason to continue their massacres.
The slide down in the polls is actually a good thing for conservatives. The president needs his base to stay rock solid, and there is no quicker way to crack that base than with a sideways nomination to the SCOTUS vacancy. Does the Post really want swagger back? Look for an announcement a week from Monday of a solid judicial conservative and listen for the shreiks from the left that will underscore the moment. The exhibition season is over.
The Post focuses on the fact that social security reform stalled in the face of the Senate Democrats refusal to engage in the policy discussion. From early this year I have been arguing that the debate was a win-win for the president. Either he got reform, or the country got a clear picture that its most serious domestic problems cannot be solved unless an obstructionist Democratic Party is punished at the polls in ’06, especially in Senate races in Florida, West Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Washington State. Realignments aren’t quick, and the framers set up a system that allowed for “last stands” by obstructionist factions. The Democrats are “stuck on stupid,” to use the phrase that defined September as well as any other, and the wags who are burying the president refuse to deal with the realities of the political trends over the past six years.
The presidents’ opponents have been declaring him down and out since the fall of ’00. Keep the clippings handy for election night ’06.