There's been a lot of calling for real accountability when it comes to Bush and his administration's neglect of essential government programs related to our national security and civil infrastructure, leading to the failures so bloody apparent in the aftermath of Katrina. And I agree, Bush should be held accountable.
The Republicans are now trying to mount a big coverup campaign, by maintaining control over any investigation of what really happened. Why are they doing this? What do they have to hide? What are they afraid of?
But I think it's important for progressives to understand that this disaster is not just about Bush, and it's not just about the Republicans who collaborated with Bush to dismantle our government -- all the while increasing spending and feeding at the taxpayer trough.
The more important thing that happened in the past few weeks is the exposure of the utter bankruptcy of conservative ideology, which since Ronald Reagan (at least) has tried to claim that government is the enemy, that government must be destroyed.
What is obvious to most Americans is that we could have used effective government to not only respond to the Katrina disaster better, but also prevented much of the death and destruction. This is a case where the private sector just does not fit the bill. This is a case where government planning is not only helpful, it's essential.
Bush knows it. His speech was all about government programs. He didn't talk about how he freed the government contractors like Halliburton to take advantage of the desperation of the people suffering there by paying minimum wage for skilled construction jobs. He didn't talk about policies to allow more pollution to contaminate the air and water. No, he was doing his best to sound like a Democrat.
Funny, that. And very revealing. Because this also reveals that Karl Rove knows that Republicans have to sound like progressives now.
Think about that. The entire American political landscape has changed. Metaphorically, we now see we need trees and all the Republicans have axes in their hands. They are not equipped to respond. We the People demand results, and the only way they can deliver is by embracing progressive values.
There's a long battle ahead. The GOP controls the entire government, from White House to Congress to the court system. But I think the people -- We the People of the United States of America -- have had a wake-up call, thanks to Katrina. What happens now will take place in the context of a revived political culture -- a political culture that sees government not as an obstacle but as our tool, not as the enemy but as our servant, not as a problem but as a problem solver.
And those who screech the conservative ideology are finding themselves with zero political capital. You don't want an Amish auto mechanic. You don't want a vegan BBQ chef. And you don't want a conservative running government.
It just doesn't work.
Will it last? I don't know. But I do know that whether we hold Bush accountable or not, he's not going to be standing for election any time soon. We need to focus on the future, and create it proactively, instead of simply reacting to what the Republicans do.