John Kerry: whispers from the tomb
I walked over to Sen. John Kerry's marble mausoleum at Forest Lawn in Burbank, Ca. this morning for a chat with his ghost about Hurricane Katrina. I hadn't been over there since the dedication on August 9, 2004, the day after he told America that he would have voted exactly the same way on the Iraq war resolution, knowing then what he knew nearly two years later.
Here's a rush radio transcript of the chat -- later to be broadcast on NPR's Fresh Air:
(Sound of Jan knocking on the brass ringer in the shape of Bill Clinton's penis at Former Sen. John Kerry's final resting place.)
Boom, boom, boom.
Kerry: (strange rattling sounds) Who is it?
Jan: John, it's me, Jan. I can barely hear you. Put your mouth closer to the crack in the door.
Kerry: Here I am.
Jan: That's a little better. How are you coping with the news? It's as though New Orleans has been sacked! Millions are affected in Misssissippi and Louisiana. I think this country might run out of gas in a couple weeks because we've lost 10% of our refining capacity, and our gas reserves are pathetic.
But it sure looks like the drowning of New Orleans was utterly preventable if we had just funded those levees at the levels that the engineers had requested. No doubt, you are filled with that righteous anger that netted you 59 million votes in November.
Kerry: Oh, I am incensed. Incensed. Listen, now is the time for all of us to come together to help our fellow Americans rebuild the communities that have lost so much. Elected officials, emergency personnel and incredible volunteers are working round the clock. These emergency workers are heroes."
Jan: They certainly are. I agree with you totally. But didn't isn't this the consequence of the most accurately predicted monumental fuckup in the history of the country? I mean, 9/11 was an issue of a lack of intelligence coordination, desk jockey jockeying, Saudi appeasement, etc., but this was like, "fix the levee or the levee will break and we'll lose New Orleans."
John: Jan, while Americans are united and determined to help the people who are suffering, there is no question that we share a collective anguish and frustration over the inadequate response of the federal government over these past several days. Federal officials must act swiftly in coming hours and days to direct more aid to the region as rapidly as possible.
Jan: If you talked like that in the election John, you'd be in the Oval Office right now. You still might be president some day.
John: The American people deserve leadership equal to their sacrifice. And I intend to keep giving it to them fromÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
(Loud yells of "two Americas" coming from the mausoleum next to Kerry's).
Jan: Hold on John, I hear something coming from next door. I'll catch up later.
(Jan walks over.)
Jan: How cryptic, all it says on the door is "Son of a mill worker." Hello? Was someone screaming "two Americas?"
Voice: Two Americas! Two Americas! Two of 'em!
Jan: That sounds familiarÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ it's John Edwards, isn't it?
John: Yes, during the campaign of 2004, I spoke often of the two Americas: the America of the privileged and the wealthy, and the America of those who lived from paycheck to paycheck. I spoke of the difference in the schools, the difference in the loan rates, the difference in opportunity.
Jan: And from what I can tell from the e-mails you send me, that's still the script you're speaking from.
John: Jan, this whole flood in New Orleans could have prevented with a two-cent screw. There are immediate needs in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and the first priority is meeting those, but after that, we need to think about the American community, about the one America we think we are, the one we talk about. We need people to feel more than sympathy with the victims, we need them to feel empathy with our national community that includes the poor.
Jan: Not two Americas, then.
John: Well, one America, hopefully.