I recall one of those right-wing reverends, in the days after Katrina, attributing the catastrophic effects of storm to the expression of his God's wrath about gays and permissive sexuality. Tempting though it might be, I'll refrain from returning the favor by belaboring the effects of Gustav on the Republican convention. I'm just grateful that, for the time being at least, the evacuation orders appear to have minimized the storm's potential to cause human pain and suffering--though the mere fact of having to leave one's home and join the grid-locked procession out of the storm's path must have been disruptive enough in itself.
I can't help but notice, however, that Gustav has given the Republicans the best excuse in the world to spare themselves the otherwise obligatory appearance of Bush and Cheney at their event; and has offered those dignitaries the opportunity to redeem a small measure of their inexcusable negligence on the occasion of the earlier event. They can now look busy and concerned before the media's camera; they can mouth the words of compassion that were distressingly absent before; they can go through the motions of being in charge. Would that it had been so when Katrina hit. Would that New Orleans and its environs had received the federal aid they needed to recover from the damage they received three years ago. Would that the Bush administration's promises had been kept. From everything I hear, it is not so. The one inarguable lesson is that government is not always the problem, as ideological Republican leaders have so earnestly preached over the past three decades; and that the damage done to government by their efforts must now, like those levees, be repaired.
After last week's spectacular success for the Democrats at the convention, their opponents are now going to have to settle for at least the first couple of days of their convention with the media's attention focused steadfastly elsewhere. My part-Buddhist self tells me to take a breath and send thoughts of compassionate goodwill in their direction, while my political self wrestles with a reprehensible sense of Schadenfreude. Inevitably, on both sides, political calculation will have a significant role in how this story plays out over the next few days and as of this morning, the storm's damage is considerably less than the expectations hyped by the media.
I have been sitting on some ideas about Obama and what I judge to be the double standard of the media in covering his campaign; and about McCain and his vice-presidential choice. Once in a while I get a moment of clarity, but I have to say that the distractions of the moment--from Ellie's continuing battle with her rib pain to the chaos that surrounds us in our Laguna Beach cottage--have made it difficult to put together any coherent lines of thought. Today, we return to the relative tranquility of our Los Angeles home. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get my head together.