Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Blame God, not me

There must be such a thing as divine mercy because the God who sends plagues of locusts and zaps people into pillars of salt would have surely struck down George W. Bush at the pulpit Friday morning. The administration's multipronged strategy to repair the damage wrought to cherished areas of the president's reputation was on full display at the National Prayer Service, which Bush called to remember victims of the hurricane. Bused-in evacuees from New Orleans? Check. Promotion of faith-based organizations? Check. Shifting blame to others? Check. This time, however, after weeks of laying blame at the doorsteps of Louisiana state officials and the mayor of New Orleans and even some of the victims themselves, Bush chose a bigger target: He blamed God. As in much of what we've heard from Bush over the past few weeks, there was a whiff of the surreal. He bemoaned the "arbitrary harm" caused by the hurricane, the unanswerable question of why God allows bad things to happen, and noted that "the greatest hardship fell upon citizens already facing lives of struggle" -- as if that were merely a coincidence. The service was filled with references to the fury of natural disaster and the shock of unexpected devastation.

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