By MARC MCDONALD
The biggest non-news story this week involves Bush saying that he takes "responsibility" for failures in dealing with Hurricane Katrina.
There's only one problem. Bush is supposed to be president of the United States. Of course, he's responsible for the disastrous federal response. Responsibility is supposed to come with the job. Bush has simply never conceded this point before on anything else--from the disastrous Iraq war to 9/11 to the exploding federal deficit.
It's a bit of a media novelty now that Bush is claiming responsibility for a change---but one thing that should not be overlooked is the fact that Bush had already full responsibility, whether or not he admitted it.
This latest development is nothing more than yet another cynical ploy on Karl Rove's part. It would be significant only if it were accompanied by some sort of concrete action. But of course, it won't be.
In many nations around the world (Japan, for example), a leader would have stepped down in the aftermath of a Katrina-like fiasco. Of course, we cannot expect that of Bush. But it would be nice if Bush would follow up his PR ploy with some real action for a change.
After all, it's easy to mouth empty platitudes at press conferences. It's quite another thing to, say, end White House-connected crony capitalism in the Katrina recovery effort.
Millions of disillusioned Americans are asking why it is that companies with ties to the Bush White House are grabbing some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts.
Since Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast, shares of Halliburton have climbed 10 percent. Fresh from raking in billions of dollars in non-competitive contracts in Iraq, Halliburton is expected rake in billions in Katrina's aftermath. As Britain's Observer newspaper pointed out, "...Halliburton has shone in the markets partly because it is expected to do well out of the catastrophe."
In short, Bush may think he's being a bold leader by taking "responsibility" for a change. But the thing he's never realized is that responsibility is supposed to come with the job of president. And responsibility is something that he's always shirked.
Bush's Rove-scripted "responsibility" PR moment aside, does anyone seriously think that anything will change with this administration?
In the end, nothing will change. In fact, I'd bet money that, come next August, Bush will again be luxuriating in yet another European-style 5-week vacation, oblivious to the worries and concerns of ordinary working Americans.
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