Another promising sign

Maybe it’s a little too soon to get excited, but this development made me a lot more hopeful for the course of our country.

I quoted Sen. Lindsey Graham the other day as saying, "I think the president is learning from Katrina. I see this president adjusting." I said then I thought I saw some of the same things.

I’m even more encouraged now. The president who refused twice to accept Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation after the Abu Ghraib debacle did enormous strategic harm to this nation and its warBush_culpa effort may actually be learning that sometimes you have to own up to mistakes, and act to rectify them.

I still don’t think he’d accept Sec. Rumsfeld’s resignation if it were offered again — after all, the Bushes value loyalty (a little too much), and Rummy’s too high up in the family — but the president’s recent attitude toward his administration’s handling of Katrina is at least encouraging.

5 thoughts on “Another promising sign

  1. Phillip

    Well, the new W who can admit error arrived on day 1698 of his presidency. But it is encouraging as you say. What is encouraging is that the outrage expressed by so many, across the political spectrum, actually did in the end have some effect on the actions of our leaders. It’s a lesson worth remembering. Less encouraging are the poll numbers out today showing the starkly different perspectives on the Katrina response from white vs. black point of view. Sadly, it’s another reminder of the deep divisions in our midst. But again, if Sen. Graham is right that the President has “learned” from Katrina, an opportunity exists for him now to reach across that divide.

  2. David

    Phillip, Bush has been reaching across that divide his entire political career. The most direct evidence of that is the people he has surrounded himself with as his most trusted aides. What would you suggest that he do to close the divide? I hope the answer is not more welfare giveaways, race based quotas, racial preferences, or slavery reparations. My take on this is like two people shaking hands. If only one extends the hand to shake (as Bush has) and the other does not, there will be no joining of hands.

  3. Mike C

    Bush does not speak ill of his political opponents in the House and Senate except in very general terms. Nor does he dump on governors and other elected officials, no matter how idiotic they act. See my latest post. While I agree that he’s too non-judgmental of his subordinates, I continue to disagree with your assessment of Rummy. Abu Ghraib was an aberration – six morons who tried to lose the war – that can’t be tied to the Big Dog no matter how hard the WaPo tries. Try this quiz or take a look at this timeline.
    In another positive step, the aptly named LA gov has also stepped up to the plate.
    If you really do want a scapegoat — somebody to fire — this guy looks like the best suspect. He wears two hats – head of Louisiana’s Department of Homeland Security and commander of the LA NG. It looks like he also kept the Salvation Army out of New Orleans, in addition to the Red Cross.
    Conservatives’ greatest disappointment is the Bush administration’s inability to reduce expenditures. I durn near spilled my Chianti when I read this. There are those who say DeLay was being ironic, perhaps setting a trap. I’m not laughing yet, in fact I may cry along with this guy.
    Last week I noted that there was a bit of spare change in the highway bill. Looks like the grand rebuilding of the Big Easy will be added to the tab my great-grandchildren will have to bear.

  4. Phillip

    David, the point about Bush’s “most trusted aides” gets a little close to the “hey, some of my best friends…” riposte. No, you know in your heart that “reaching across the divide” does not mean “race-based quotas” or “slavery reparations.” It does mean, among other things, reversing the policies of income redistribution to the wealthy and re-orienting the billions and billions spent on neo-con geopolitical experiments like Iraq towards the truly dire predicaments we face at home (for example, 45 million without health insurance).
    On a positive note, even since Mr. Warthen’s blog above, the President’s comments to the UN get my vote for the most encouraging words I’ve heard from his mouth since he took office.

  5. Mike C

    Phillip –
    I posted my response to your comment, but since TheColumbiaRecord is moderated, it won’t appear for a bit.
    In taking issue with your comment on income distribution, I note that almost anything the feds fund that’s high tech will skew the income distribution upwards: alternative energy, biomed, higher ed, etc. funds folks who in the fourth and fifth quintiles (over $53K in 2001 dollars). I cite and comment on Greenspan’s remarks, but here, for the first time, cite this analysis. Here’s the pertinent excerpt:

    The union-funded Economic Policy Institute alleges that wages are falling “at their fastest rate in 14 years.” Middle-income families are said to be trapped on an economic treadmill sprinting ever faster just to avoid falling behind financially. Some critics have even trotted out contorted statistics which suggest that workers have made almost no income gains since the late “70s. It’s a grim picture that suggests that the best days of the American worker are behind us and that The Brady Bunch lived better than Bart Simpson’s family does today. But the reality is that the economic well-being of the American family has never been better — as measured by income, consumption, and wealth (see nearby chart). And these gains have continued over the past five years, despite the recession and stock-market crash of 2000-01. The typical household today has a disposable income higher than any other time in history, and when taking into account all forms of benefits that workers now receive, compensation to workers is about 27% higher in real terms than 25 years ago. Workers earn in less than four days a week what their parents earned in five, and they make in three days on the job what their grandparents earned in five.
    As a consequence of these steady gains the average hourly wage is a little over $18 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When benefits are counted, the average worker earns nearly $26 an hour. The median family income has risen to $52,600 a year, which, as Michael Cox of the Dallas Fed, points out, gives families a level of purchasing power that would have been considered wealthy through most of history.
    The driving force behind these income gains has been the stunning increased productivity of American workers. Between 2000 and 2004, the average annual rate of productivity of workers has risen by 3.6% per year and by 5.5% per year in the manufacturing sector — the fastest rate of improvement in 30 years. These output gains have been achieved through increases in “human capital” — better skills and training — combined with business investment in physical capital, such as computers, technology, and modernized plants. Gary Robbins of the Heritage Foundation estimates that about 90% of the gains from an increase in capital investment by businesses accrue to workers in the form of higher wages, and the remaining 10% accrue to the owners of the capital.
    But herein lies a conundrum: Why have wages only crept up since 2000 during this era of unprecedented productivity gains? Most of the answer, according to Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute, is that a large share of worker compensation is in the form of non-wage income. Wages have inched up by 4% since 2000, benefits are up 16% and total compensation is up 7.5%. Employers are now offering a much wider range of benefits to workers than ever before: 33% of all firms now offer long-term care insurance; 42% offer telecommuting; 82% school tuition assistance; 62% flexible work schedules; 31% adoption assistance; and almost half paid military leave. For better or worse, employers have become full-service social welfare agencies. As Janemarie Mulvey, president of the Employment Policy Foundation (EPF), notes: “The term “fringe benefits” is an anachronism. These benefits are no longer at the fringe.”

    The writer goes on to say that because of our tax code, non-salary benefits are both cheaper for the employer and more valuable to the employee.
    To get a good idea of where I’m coming from, I suggest A New Road to Serfdom? and this little ditty on dirty little secret of the poverty rate

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