Mr. Bush is the triumph of the seemingly average American man. He's normal. He thinks in a sort of common-sense way. He speaks the language of business and sports and politics. You know him. He's not exotic. But if there's a fire on the block, he'll run out and help. He'll help direct the rig to the right house and count the kids coming out and say, "Where's Sally?" He's responsible. He's not an intellectual. Intellectuals start all the trouble in the world. And then when the fire comes they say, "I warned Joe about that furnace." And, "Does Joe have children?" And "I saw a fire once. It spreads like syrup. No, it spreads like explosive syrup. No, it's formidable and yet fleeting." When the fire comes they talk. Bush ain't that guy. Republicans love the guy who ain't that guy. Americans love the guy who ain't that guy."
George W. Bush, August 30, 2005:
As New Orleans drowns, the president decides to take guitar pickin' lessons.
To be fair, I'm sure he'll promise to send money. He likes to do that. He doesn't actually send money, but by the time anyone realizes that, we're on to the next disaster.
I'd also forgotten about Noonan's line, "Intellectuals start all the trouble in the world." Yeah, ain't that the truth? Like pointing out that the levees that were supposed to be strengthened weren't because the money budgeted to do so was diverted to the war in Iraq, just as the National Guard troops who should have been on hand to respond to the crisis were. Or that FEMA, which should have been on the spot before the clouds cleared away, has been gutted by the administration in favor of moving its responsibilities to the Department of Homeland Security, but that DHS doesn't have anything in place yet to handle a disaster of this magnitude. Yeah, stupid intellectuals.
I'm sure that Crazy Peggy will be pointing out shortly that the guitar incident was not a case of Nero fiddling, but of Mr. Bush's steadfast (and resolute!) committment to the arts.