If my memory is correct, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has been far too much a cheerleader for the Iraq War and a fan of the neo-cons who think America can--and should--remake the world in its own image in 80 days. But today's column is 90% on-the-mark. Read the entire piece before the NYT archives it.

Here is the money-quote from Friedman:

Bush got a mandate, almost a blank check, to rule from 9/11 that he never really earned at the polls. Unfortunately, he used that mandate not simply to confront the terrorists but to take a radically uncompassionate conservative agenda - on taxes, stem cells, the environment and foreign treaties - that was going nowhere before 9/11, and drive it into a post-9/11 world. In that sense, 9/11 distorted our politics and society.

No kidding. Throw in gay-baiting, bowing to the anti-tax-at-any-price-crowd, the religious (Christian) extremists, and there you have it. Has it ever occured to the Bush people that no one takes HIS calls for action in Iraq seriously because it is obvious that everything Bush and the right-wing do is mean to consolidate power? Has it occured to Bush that about half the American people (hopefully more now) have figured out that they use American's legitimate fear of terror not to protect the country, but to gain total power and push through an extremist agenda? If we are engaged in a titanic world struggle, do you hand over the keys of government to Pat Robertson?

Another exceprt from Friedman:

If the Bush-Cheney team seemed to be the right guys to deal with Osama, they seem exactly the wrong guys to deal with Katrina - and all the rot and misplaced priorities it's exposed here at home.These are people so much better at inflicting pain than feeling it, so much better at taking things apart than putting them together, so much better at defending "intelligent design" as a theology than practicing it as a policy.

You mean a permanent underclass? Racism? A rotting infrastructure? And I love this excerpt:

An administration whose tax policy has been dominated by the toweringly selfish Grover Norquist - who has been quoted as saying: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub" - doesn't have the instincts for this moment. Mr. Norquist is the only person about whom I would say this: I hope he owns property around the New Orleans levee that was never properly finished because of a lack of tax dollars. I hope his basement got flooded. And I hope that he was busy drowning government in his bathtub when the levee broke and that he had to wait for a U.S. Army helicopter to get out of town.

And two more for the road (yeah, I'm getting into this):

Besides ripping away the roofs of New Orleans, Katrina ripped away the argument that we can cut taxes, properly educate our kids, compete with India and China, succeed in Iraq, keep improving the U.S. infrastructure, and take care of a catastrophic emergency - without putting ourselves totally into the debt of Beijing.

As my Democratic entrepreneur friend Joel Hyatt once remarked, the Bush team's philosophy since 9/11 has been: "We're at war. Let's party."


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