Bush as Hurricane Isaac

There is nothing Republicans would rather the American people forget more than George W. Bush, who doesn’t even have a bit-part at the GOP convention opening in Tampa.

But W’s ghost may be there, anyway.

The National Weather Service says tropical storm Isaac is now heading for New Orleans, and Isaac is projected to become a Category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall late Monday or early Tuesday.

Isaac is very likely to revive memories of the Bush administration’s monumental incompetence in dealing with the needs of Americans caught in Hurricane Katrina.

And if the public remembers the Bush administration’s incompetence with Katrina, they may also recall the Bush administration’s incompetence and its lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — which led us into that devastating war.

And the public may recall how George W. Bush took the $5 billion surplus Bill Clinton bequeathed to him and turned it into a $6 trillion budget deficit by slashing taxes, mostly on the rich, and by creating an expensive new Medicare drug benefit that helped drug companies more than it helped seniors.

The public might even recall how the Bush administration tried not to see what Wall Street was up to when the Street went on a rampage of risky bets, and then, when Wall Street was about to melt down, pushed Congress into approving a no-strings bailout — both of which cost the nation billions more.

Indeed, we’re still living with George W. Bush’s legacy — the last Republican to occupy the White House — which is a truth that Romney is desperate to put out of our minds. He wants to blame the bad economy, and most of everything else, on Obama.

The GOP was intent on not even bringing up Bush’s name at the GOP convention, because the former president might also remind Americans how little the Republicans care about average Americans, like those caught in Hurricane Katrina, and how much they care about top corporate and Wall Street executives, like those being entertained in Tampa.

But Hurricane Isaac seems likely to remind Americans anyway.

Let us hope and pray Isaac doesn’t cause the disaster of Katrina. We can at least be confident that the Obama administration will respond as the Bush administration didn’t.

But the split screen on the TV newscasts — part GOP convention, part Hurricane Isaac bashing into the Gulf Coast — may nonetheless pose a public-relations disaster for the GOP.

About Robert Reich 547 Articles

Robert Reich is the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

He has served as labor secretary in the Clinton administration, as an assistant to the solicitor general in the Ford administration and as head of the Federal Trade Commission's policy planning staff during the Carter administration.

He has written eleven books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages; the best-sellers The Future of Success and Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reich is co-founding editor of The American Prospect magazine. His weekly commentaries on public radio’s "Marketplace" are heard by nearly five million people.

In 2003, Mr. Reich was awarded the prestigious Vaclev Havel Foundation Prize, by the former Czech president, for his pioneering work in economic and social thought. In 2005, his play, Public Exposure, broke box office records at its world premiere on Cape Cod.

Mr. Reich has been a member of the faculties of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and of Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.

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