But Rich has just one key point of comparison he wants to make: Once we see the Wizard is just Professor Marvel, he can never go back to being the Wizard, and, by the same token, once President Bush — pay no attention to that mayor and governor behind the curtain — has been exposed as a fraud, nothing he can do thereafter can ever make us think of him as anything but a fraud. But, of course, this isn't true. Marvel was never a Wizard, and once we know that, we can never fall for the fakery again. But Bush really is the President, and the Presidency isn't a fraud, despite all the many mistakes the human being who tries to fill the impossibly large role will make. And Bush has made an ambitious proposal for dealing with the problems left by Katrina:
The president will ask Congress to declare the entire Gulf Coast region one big enterprise zone, qualifying for subsidized loans and tax breaks for investment and hiring. And in addition to dispatching legions of its own workers to process the paperwork, oversee the massive rebuilding effort and ensure that the billions are well spent, the government will contract thousands of private-sector workers to help them out. An estimated $200 billion in federal spending could be augmented by $60 billion in insurance payments and tens of billions of investment by individuals and firms.Rich is dismissing all of this out of hand as just more of a pattern of indulgence in imagery and cronyism. But I get the feeling that Rich's op-ed is just more of his ongoing pattern of despising Bush, no matter what happens. Well, the little dog parted that curtain long ago. Let me turn my eyes slightly to the left — in the physical sense — and read David Brooks's column:
This is an effort to transform the gulf region, which had become a disaster zone of urban liberalism. All around the South, cities are booming, but New Orleans never did. All around the country, crime was dropping, but in New Orleans it was rising. Immigrants were flowing across the land in search of opportunity, but as Joel Kotkin has observed, few were interested in New Orleans.Is it foolish to want to be optimistic about this plan?
Now the Bush administration is trying to change all that. That means trying to get around the corruption that made the city such a rotten place to do business. The White House is trying to do this by devising programs in which checks and benefits flow directly to recipients, not through local agencies....
His administration is going to fight a two-front war, against big government liberals and small government conservatives, but if he can devote himself to executing his policies, the Gulf Coast will be his T.V.A., the program that serves as a model for what can be done nationwide.
UPDATE: Donna Brazile went for the optimism:
The president has set a national goal and defined a national purpose. This is something I believe with all my heart: When we are united, nothing can stop us. We will not waver, we will not tire, and we will not stop until the streets are clean, every last brick has been replaced and every last family has its home back....
New Orleans will rise again. My hometown is down but not out, and with the help of every American, it will be back on its feet, bigger and brighter than ever.
Mr. President, I am ready for duty. I am ready to stir those old pots again. Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work.