A hundred years later, George W. Bush is forcing a revision of that maxim based on his uninterrupted string of lies about what the federal government would do in response to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The Washington Post reports to the world what we've all seen unfolding before our eyes over the past five months. That is, Bush has used the disasters the Gulf Coast primarily as backdrops for photo ops in attempts to bolster his poll numbers, which sank through the floor in the wake of the federal government's initial non-response to the flooding of New Orleans.
The first two paragraphs of the story sum the situation up well:
Nearly five months after Hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans, President Bush's lofty promises to rebuild the Gulf Coast have been frustrated by bureaucratic failures and competing priorities, a review of events since the hurricane shows.The administration's response is so pathetic that our very own congressional cipher Charles Boustany was nearly moved to criticize Bush's rejection of the recovery plan authored by fellow Louisiana Republican Richard Baker.
While the administration can claim some clear progress, Bush's ringing call from New Orleans's Jackson Square on Sept. 15 to "do what it takes" to make the city rise from the waters has not been matched by action, critics at multiple levels of government say, resulting in a record that is largely incomplete as Bush heads into next week's State of the Union address.
No doubt Bush's speech writers will roll out the lofty rhetoric for his State of the Union address, but reality has eaten away Bush's credibility to the point that nearly two-thirds of the country think he's taken us down the wrong track.
It's actually worse than that. On the Gulf Coast and in New Orleans we have been treated to the most deeply cynical manipulation of rhetoric and image making in the history of the Republic. The disaster that was Katrina became a man-made catastrophe that rests at Bush's doorstep due to his cuts in flood protection work in Southeast Louisiana and his appointment of incompetent political hacks to positions like the head of FEMA.
In a desperate scramble to save his presidency in the wake of the revealed incompetence, Bush promised to atone for those errors by providing the funding to rebuild the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. He was lying then and he knew it. He'll be lying in his State of the Union address on Tuesday and now we know it.
Currently in America, there are just three kinds of lies: "Lies, damned lies and Bush rhetoric."
Caveat auditor! "Listener beware," should be the mindset of every citizen when this President speaks.