Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Chief

Slate featured an article on William Rehnquist on Sunday that somehow flew under my radar, despite the fact that the author is Rick Garnett, a professor here at ND Law. Take a look.
--Frank

UPDATE: Here's a link to Prof. Garnett's blog with an entry about Justice Rehnquist's funeral.

Monday, September 05, 2005

What Happens When Your Faith in God Can't Feed Your Starving Children?

I am glad that Frank has come around on the question of the Federael Government's performance in New Orleans. The hurricane produced a media circus and predictable political point scoring, but those events are separate from the Bush administration's performance in handling the crisis.

I will not be able to say anything new about the administration's abysmal response to the hurricane and its aftermath. In truth, I have been too busy to follow the tragedy very closely, and I think I also share other Americans' general weariness from watching the Bush administration blow it over and over.

One interesting aspect of the story, though, that has received a lot of coverage is that so many of the dead and abandoned in New Orleans are black. This, to my mind, is the first time the formerly hot-button issue of race has resurfaced to the forefront of American culture since 9/11. It is sad that images on television seem to be the only catalyst for outrage in our culture anymore. Those that read the news were probably not very surprised to see that the vast majority of the people who remained stranded in New Orleans are black, much like we were not totally surprised to see the pictures from Abu Ghraib (and will continue to not be surprised when new pictures emerge, as torture continues to be condoned and practiced).

Condi Rice has predictably been deployed by the administration to defend its handling of the crisis, and she has been adament that race has not influenced their response. One particular comment from Rice struck me:
Asked to say a few words from the pulpit, Rice, a preacher's daughter, said: "The Lord Jesus Christ is going to come on time." She added: "If we just wait."

There have been quite a few statements from public officials in the past few days that have come to symbolize how disconnected from reality they are (think of the picture of Bush strumming the guitar and the constant assurances by the FEMA director that everything in New Orleans was going alright). But Condi Rice pathetically asks residents of New Orleans to just have faith in God and know that everything will be alright, just as long as they are patient. It is easy to see how administration officials have remained publicly cheery in spite of the incredible messes they have been responsible for creating and mismanaging in the past five years. They just have faith in God, from the comfort of their cushy, powerful, prestigious jobs, that everything will be alright. Because, for them, it always has and always will.
-- Eric

It's Official: Slow News Month Over

While some critics have proclaimed the demise of Exit145 due to lack of interest and time on our part, the reality is that August was, as usual, a tremendously slow news month. And unless you've been living under a rock for the last week, things have picked up. I'd like to draw your attention to two items concerning the biggest stories of the last week.

First off, the disaster that is New Orleans. I have to admit that I wanted to reserve judgment with regard to the federal government's handling of the post-hurricane situation in the Big Easy. I have determined, with influence coming from many quarters (including the man who puts the '145' in 'Exit145', Eric), that it is irresponsible to continue to look the other way. Further, I must admit that the visceral (and obviously expected) reaction to Bush's action (or lack thereof) from the far left inspired in me a knee-jerk reaction to defend a President who has appeared to this point to be a superior crisis manager. While criticizing the 'left' for playing the partisan card during a national tragedy, I was subconciously doing same. While reading Andrew Sullivan's op-ed from yesterday's London Times I officially realized my mistake. As usual, Sully cuts straight to the core of the controversy (albeit in a fairly emotional tone) while lending both historical perspective and potential future developments to the mix. The entire thing is worth a read, and I found this bit pretty interesting.
What harm can come to Bush? Not much: except a worrying weakening of his ability to carry the public for the war in Iraq. A competent Democrat could clean up with a message to restore government for the people rather than for special interests. But these days, a competent Democrat is an oxymoron. Hillary has been silent. She figures she need do nothing but let the anger vent on Bush.

But in Republican circles, one real change may have occurred. In a matter of days, Rudy Giuliani’s chances of becoming the next president improved drastically. What people want now is someone who can make the federal government work again. They want an executive who can fight a war and keep them safe. Nobody represents that kind of need better than Giuliani. His social liberalism — which makes him anathema to the religious fundamentalists who control the Republican party — would be overwhelmed by his appeal to law-and-order Republicans. Those Republicans know when an almighty error has been made. And last week, their president failed them. It will take enormous political work for him to win them back now.
Second, the nomination of John G. Roberts to Chief Justice was an interesting and seemingly shrewd move. As someone pointed out to me this morning, this puts Sandra Day O'Connor in an interesting position. Roberts was initially slated to replace O'Connor as associate justice once he was given Senate approval. Now that he'll be replacing Rehnquist, O'Connor will remain on the bench until a replacement for her is found. With the confirmation of Roberts expected to take some time, O'Connor could remain on the bench for months to come. Will she take a back seat or will she take advantage of her now 'rock-star' status that was given upon her announcement of retirement? Time will tell.

The gauntlet has been thrown down, Eric.

--Frank