At the beginning of the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette asked why the peasants were revolting. She was told, “They have no bread to eat.”
To which she replied, “Then let them eat cake.”
This illustrates how separated from reality the elite were in Eighteenth Century France. It seems obvious that if the peasants didn’t have bread, they most certainly didn’t have cake. Marie Antoinette, however, had no inkling of what it was like to have no food.
We witnessed the modern day equivalent to this when Barbara Bush, upon seeing the thousands of Katrina survivors in the Houston Astrodome, casually commented, "So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this –” this (chuckles) is working very well for them."
Let them eat cake.
This lack of compassion and empathy for others is emulated by her son, our president. A man who could not tear himself away from playing cowboy on his ranch in Crawford, TX to attend to his country men & women in their time of need. This is the same man who sat stupefied and motionless in front of a kindergarten class while America was under attack on 9/11.
On both occasions, when he finally did move, he flew off in the opposite direction from the tragedy. On both occasions thousands of Americans died while FEMA dropped the ball and there was unprecedented incompetence at every level, both before and after the events.
Yet, he and his team were able to pull together a $250K Photo-Op in the aftermath of Katrina! He proudly stood in a working class blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up, as if ready to help with the rescue efforts. Similarly, in the rubble of the World Trade Center, Bush stood wearing a hard hat among firefighters who had risked their lives and lost friends, as if he was going to help with the rescue efforts. In both cases, he promised money and relief; but my guess is no money will ever be seen in New Orleans, just as those firefighters after 9/11 never saw a dime. These gestures were as empty in meaning as the infamous “Mission Accomplished” Photo-Op where the president played dress-up while our sons and daughters continued to die in Iraq.
Posing; Sound-bytes; Photo-Ops: these are the things that have defined this presidency. Although incompetent (or indifferent) to produce results in reality, the Bush Administration knows if they can keep up appearances, they can keep up support.
Judging from recent approval ratings, I think the American citizens are starting to catch on.