It was one of those weird early-morning moments when I was just about half-awake, rubbing my eyes and hoping the cats hadn't brought me another bird, flapping its wings, into the house, and then guarding all open windows to keep it trapped, as they had done a few mornings before.
It always takes me a few minutes to get used to being awake, trying to separate what I have been dreaming from the reality of the world, wondering whether I had actually washed a load of clothes and put them in the dryer and therefore would have something to wear to work or if that had been something my mind had imagined while I was in la-la land. I'm not a good morning person. I had been out of town over the weekend at a really nice wedding and had not seen the news on television and had not read a newspaper, and it had been nice. So when I stumbled across the room and flipped on the news, still in a bleary-eyed haze, I saw a piece about the horrible cyclone that hit Burma over the weekend and heard of the rising death toll. And then I saw something that made me think I had to still be asleep and dreaming because it was so unreal. I might be behind the curve on this, and it may have already hit the talk-radio circuit, but there was First Lady Laura Bush on the screen in full Joker makeup, speaking about the cyclone. I fully expected her to say something in her Valium-induced, ladylike Southern drawl about how sad she was for all of the thousands of people who were killed and their families, but instead she was saying something else. She was actually, really, inexplicably railing on Burma's government for not responding to the storm victims in a timely and efficient way.
Given the way her hubby and his clan responded to Hurricane Katrina, I thought I must have imagined this or just wasn't listening carefully enough, so I did a quick Google search and read that she actually said these words: "Although they were aware of the threat, Burma's state-run media failed to issue a timely warning to citizens in the storm's path. The response to this cyclone is just the most recent example of the junta's failures to meet its people's basic needs." Come again.
COME AGAIN. I'll be the first to admit I am not up on the political climate in Burma. One can take only so much of keeping up with all the horror in the world, particularly that which the country I live in is causing, so I'm sorry that Burma has not been at the top of my list. They might be the worst military government in the world, aside from George W. Bush's, but where in the hell does she get off criticizing anything they do when it comes to storm response? Maybe they aren't doing a "heck of a job, Brownie," but given the resources for rescue they have compared to the resources for rescue the United States has, I'd say Mrs. Bush just said perhaps the most stupid thing a person in a position of power has said in a long, long time.
I know the Bushes aren't the most diplomatic people in the world (although I've never really had much of a beef with Mrs. Bush, as she has had to put up with that battle ax mother-in-law for all these years), but you would think SOMEONE in the White House would have at least a slight, basic inkling of how to handle public relations. Does Mrs. Bush not remember that while thousands of impoverished people in New Orleans were stranded on rooftops and bridges and in the stench and danger of the Superdome waiting for someone to do something to help them,
Condoleezza Rice was shopping for expensive Italian shoes in Manhattan and President Bush was fake-strumming a guitar at a Republican fund-raiser, not to mention the fact that his FEMA director Michael Brown told CNN's Soledad O'Brien he wasn't aware that anyone was stuck down there drowning? Does she not know that people are STILL living in FEMA trailers that are so poisoned with chemicals that they will likely be sick for the rest of their lives? A bad response from the government of Burma just days after a cyclone? Hurricane Katrina happened in 2005, and people are still fighting to get back into adequate housing — any housing other than their poisoned trailers. As for the state-run media she referred to, does she not remember that those in charge of the United States military effort tried to ban the media from covering their hurricane rescue effort because it was so unbelievably inept and had to let them in only after CNN filed a lawsuit?
At this point, as I write this, on the morning of the Indiana and North Carolina democratic primaries, as much as I would like to see Barack Obama win, I don't really care. The bunch we have had in the White House for the past eight years is so out of touch with reality that a family of chipmunks would be more aware of what's going on in the world around them. I was all set to write about my new reality television show, Texas Mormon Makeover, but this one really takes the proverbial cake. As everyone is saying to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Mrs. Bush, just shut up.