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Michael Moore Politicizes Katrina
September 6, 2005

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Who is to blame for this tragedy?

According to some on the political fringe, whether it's global warming, the wetlands, the funding for levees, racism, the tax cut or the president's vacation, Hurricane Katrina and the devastation that ensued are somehow the fault of George W. Bush.

It seems that many of the extremists on the left along with some of their friends in the news media and Hollywood have been sending up a series of accusatory trial balloons in hopes of severely harming President Bush.
Robert Kennedy Jr., Bill Maher and Michael Moore recently ran with the idea that the hurricane was caused by global warming.

In a posting on his Web site, Moore wrote that "those pesky scientists" had "predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable." He further mocked the president with the comment, "Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles."

More over the top than usual, the accidental Oscar winner's Bush-bashing words seemed to fit more snuggly into the Ward Churchillian/blame America mold. According to this theory, hurricanes didn't exist before man-induced global warming happened. And in left-looped logic, Bush is to blame for the hurricane because he failed to submit Kyoto to another losing vote. (The Senate disposed of the treaty 95 to nothing in the 1999 vote.)

Not that long ago, some global warming groups also warned that the ice caps were melting and the resulting cooling of the oceans would cause climate change. Apparently, it doesn't matter whether the oceans are cooling off or heating up. Either way, it's Bush's fault.

Sidney Blumenthal has come up with an eco-variation. The former Clinton aide claims that washed-out wetlands are what caused the disaster.

Despite the fact that the wetlands have been in a restoration process for a decade and a half, Blumenthal evidently sees the whole thing as a Bush blunder anyway.

Some folks who are opposed to the war are trying to tie our military presence in Iraq to the Katrina response, claiming that if those members of the National Guard who were in Iraq had been available, they would have stopped the looting and shooting and been able to rescue everyone.

This talking point with a Democrat scent is making the media rounds. Jesse Jackson recently took to the airwaves and referenced the "five billion dollar a month war in Iraq."

The numbers here don't really work out. Only 12 percent of our military forces are in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. Louisiana actually had plenty of guardsmen available.

The tragic truth is the number of troops wasn't the problem. Getting to the area was. The I-10 and other highways had collapsed and the roads were flooded.

Is there a way to blame the levee failure on Bush?

Some on the left apparently think so. The charge is that President Bush cut funds for a levee restoration project.

Michael Moore combined the levee-funding argument with the one involving the troops in Iraq. He maintained on his Web site that Bush "specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row," adding that there was a "much more important construction job for them – BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!"

Moore is apparently still having problems with his fact checking. Sadly, even with full funding, none of the flood-control projects would have been completed in time to prevent the surge of water that rushed over the city. And on another woeful note, a concrete wall that had already been completely upgraded in accordance with plans that spanned several administrations was breached.

I have to wonder if in the blame-game handbook the instructions read: When all else fails, play the race card.

Jesse Jackson recently contended that in America "there is a historical indifference to the pain of poor people, and black people. ..." Astonishingly, he added that "we seem to adjust more easily to black pain."

Jackson also criticized Bush's assignment of the role of coordinators for the Katrina fund-raising effort to former presidents George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton.

"How can blacks be left out of the leadership and trapped into the suffering?" Jackson asked. "Why are there no African-Americans in that circle?"

Another black leader of sorts, this time in the rap world, reached for the race card, too. During NBC's live broadcast of "Concert for Hurricane Relief," rapper Kanye West told viewers that National Guardsmen were given orders to shoot African-Americans in New Orleans.

West described how when African-Americans were caught stealing in New Orleans "they were called looters," but when whites were caught they were "just feeding their families." He then suggested that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." NBC producers promptly cut away before West could go any further.

Michael Moore joined in on the race rhetoric. "No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course," Moore posted on his Web site. "It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black!"

Moore went on to write: "It's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing – NOTHING – to do with this!"

On "CBS News Sunday Morning," Nancy Giles delivered a commentary that echoed the sentiments of Jackson, West and Moore. Giles claimed that the war on poverty is being lost because of the Bush tax cuts. Giles also claimed that since he visited Iraq but not the New Orleans Superdome, President Bush doesn't "give a damn" about black people.

The idea that the president would intentionally withhold assistance to any of our people who are in need and in such desperate times is so out of line with the character of the man that statements like these are self-refuting.

On a positive note, in a demonstration of Hollywood's heart, stars have been stepping forward to offer their assistance and financial aid.

NBC already held a telethon. It was hosted by Matt Lauer and featured Harry Connick Jr., Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Mike Myers, Aaron Neville, Kanye West, Hilary Swank, Lindsay Lohan, Glenn Close, Richard Gere, John Goodman and Leonardo DiCaprio.

R&B singer Macy Gray volunteered her time at the Astrodome. Sean Penn went to New Orleans with a rescue boat (which unfortunately sprung a leak). Jerry Lewis added hurricane victims to the recipients of his Labor Day Telethon.

Alan Jackson has agreed to headline a concert at the Grand Ole Opry. Also on the bill will be Alison Krauss.

BET is planning a benefit telecast that will feature Stevie Wonder, Chris Rock, Brandy, Diddy, Usher, Alicia Keys and Wynton Marsalis.

ABC, CBS and Fox are currently collaborating on an Ellen DeGeneres-hosted one-hour live broadcast, which will reportedly be similar to the post-9/11 "A Tribute to Heroes" telethon.

MTV, VH1 and CMT will hold a joint benefit that will feature Ludacris, Green Day, Gretchen Wilson, Usher, Alicia Keys, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews Band.

Dave Matthews Band has agreed to do a separate benefit concert as well.

Barry Manilow has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars, Diddy and Jay-Z have pledged $1 million, Celine Dion and the partners of her Las Vegas show have pledged $1 million, Nicolas Cage has donated $1 million and author John Grisham has given $5 million.

Talk radio mega-star Rush Limbaugh will appear at Hollywood East. Rush plans on doing a Katrina benefit in the form of a one-man Broadway show. For one day only on Oct. 18, Rush will hit the stage at the New Amsterdam Theater on 42nd Street with the "Rush on Broadway" show.

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Copyright © 2005
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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