Aching for improvement.

Friday, September 16th, 2005

My aunt, uncle, and cousins live on the part of the coast of North Carolina that is now being pounded by Ophelia, and although we haven’t heard from them since landfall, we chatted before and my aunt said that they made the kind of preparations that you’ve got to make when you live on the coast.

And we’re two weeks plus from the awful march of Katrina, and the more awful aftermath, the consequences of a tone-deaf, class-bound government that can’t conceive of citizens who can’t drive away from any disaster.

It’s about half past midnight, and CNN is replaying George Bush’s speech from Jackson Square, his most clear-cut attempt at an apology yet. It’s a moment of engineered Rovean theater, complete with dramatic lighting on the buildings and Jackson’s statue, and a boom-shot down from the trees to the strolling President and I’ll try not to say much more about it, because I do think there’s a germ of “we screwed up, we have to do better” in their orchestrations. Better late than ever? Oh, I don’t know. Too late, I think, for many, for this time.

So I hope that Ophelia doesn’t give George a chance for version 2.0 of his administration’s efforts.

I remember how Hurricane Hugo in 1989 slashed through Charleston South Carolina and the miles of coast north from that colonial city, and months later, Sammy and I visited a town that was a cacophony of hammers and power tools and a riot of blue tarps. Multiply that a hundredfold, and I think I have an idea of what the rebuilding of New Orleans will look like, if the government’s promises mean anything.

It’s huge.