Spinning Outta Control

It was the perfect photo op. W, fresh off a month in Crawford ignoring Cindy and declining poll numbers, flew over the ravages of nature and suffering of his fellow Americans. But he was one simple descent from the clouds, a purposeful walk down the stairs from Air Force One and a helmeted helicopter ride away from a brass ring. There it was, just waiting to be seized…an instant five-ten point bump in his poll ratings. It could’ve been a “take charge” photo op reminiscent to the one we lapped up after 9-11. I can almost see Rove gently caressing himself at the good fortune nature blew his way. The only thing missing was Jerry Bruckheimer, producing the whole affair from a remote location in Qatar. Oh well, Jessica Lynch…been there, done that. It didn’t happen. In fact, it went woefully wrong. W, suddenly demure, waited. Rove was M.I.A. They had to play defense, trying to wrest control of the story from the ghastly pictures plastered 24/7 on our TVs. It was too late. Katrina, herself quite a spin doctor, had given the White House a story they couldn’t spin back. Really, though, the White House is just falling victim to it’s own devices. And so are we. We’ve all been spun, not with the brute force of the Gulf Coast, but by our own willingness to believe the unbelievable, to accept the unacceptable and to buy into rhetoric that merely soothes us as we blithely ignore all the warning signs. W and FEMA ignored them. Look what happened. We’ve ignored impending disaster since the 2000 election. We listened to the spin and, for the most part, have swallowed all the stories they feed us. Like an obese man wanting to sue McDonald’s for filling his gullet with Big Macs, our outrage lacks a certain credibility. We are Americans, so we will complain and we will want to sue someone, but it’ll be easy for us refuseniks to say “I told you so.” The rest of the world is probably licking it’s chops at the prospect. Like the White House, we’ve spun ourselves outta control. We’ve bought into the housing bubble, with no-down and ARM mortgages and equity-driven Home Depot dreams of renovating ourselves into wealth. We’ve bought into SUVs and big cars, while oil companies’ profits grow to record highs year after year. We’ve bought into a “War on Terror” which siphons off billions of dollars and tens of thousands of our own people to attack a country with no connection to 9-11, but is right next door to the country that essentially did–Bush client Saudi Arabia. Iraq…we bought into that spin, bigtime! Health care spirals out of control, education is still an afterthought–but doesn’t No Child Left Behind have a soothing ring to it? Advertisers want you to buy their products, they can’t make you. You have to buy into their message first, and then you go make your choice. But we’ve gotten to the point that we simply ignore the consumer advocates who warn us about dangerous toys at Christmas. We are too invested in the pitch, in the spin. Enter Katrina. All that spin is gone, and what’s left is the human tragedy. And it’s only going to get worse. We’ve now seen what people will do in desperation. Rapes, mutilated bodies, violence, rescuers forcing women to expose themselves if they wanted to be rescued, government indifference, looting. Imagine if the Great Depression happened today? So, over the long-term gas ain’t going to get any cheaper. The economy ain’t going to get any better. Home prices are headed for a big fall. And the civil war in Iraq ain’t ending anytime soon. Sorry Karl. Sorry America. All the spin in the world cannot stop what’s happening. It’s outta control.

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