Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Potemkin Village

How very sad that the story about the Potemkin village might not be true, because it is such a lovely simile for what is taking place in Mississippi as the anniversary of the hurricane Katrina draws near:

On the eve of the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, President Bush returned to the devastated Gulf Coast today promising to continue federal assistance, and eagerly pointing out signs of progress.

"It's amazing, isn't?" he told a gathering under a sweltering sun. "It's amazing what the world looked like then and what it looks like now."

Mr. Bush, his presidency still marred one year later by the slow government response to the storm, spent the afternoon demonstrating his empathy and optimism in meetings with residents and officials along the storm-wracked coast. The trip marked an attempt by Mr. Bush to recast the legacy of the year before, when he lingered on the other side of the country before cutting short his vacation to deal with the crisis.

Mr. Bush acknowledged that, for some, rebuilding may have been so gradual as to seem non-existent. But, Mr. Bush said: "For a fellow who was here and now a year later comes back, things have changed."

"I feel a quiet sense of determination that's going to shape the future of Mississippi," he continued.

And then, in comments that could have been as applicable to the other main challenge of his administration — Iraq — Mr. Bush said: "As this part of the world flourishes, and businesses grow, people will find work and have the wherewithal to rebuild their lives."

Mr. Bush delivered his remarks at an intersection in a working-class Biloxi neighborhood against a carefully orchestrated backdrop of neatly reconstructed homes. Just a few feet out of camera range stood gutted houses with wires dangling from interior ceilings. A tattered piece of crime scene tape hung from a tree in the field where Mr. Bush spoke. A toilet seat lay on its side in the grass.

Bolds are mine.

What made "the camera range" so immutable? Surely the cameras could be moved a little.
Read Scout Prime on the topic of New Orleans after Katrina.