Does Bush Finally See Poor People?

Apparently, it took divine intervention in the form of Hurricane Katrina to make George W. Bush, the compassionate conservative, aware of the existence of poor people in our midst. "As we clear away the debris of a hurricane, let us also clear away the legacy of inequality," said a president who has not only overseen a nearly 9 percent income decline for the poorest fifth of the nation's population but won the job boasting of his record as governor of a state that census figures show has the fifth-highest poverty level and highest percentage of citizens lacking medical insurance. Unfortunately, the president still seems to believe that the severe poverty of New Orleans is an anomaly exposed by the storm, rather than a disturbing national reality he should have long since confronted. One wishes he would take to heart the words Bishop T.D. Jakes of Dallas offered before Bush spoke at the National Cathedral on Friday: "Katrina, perhaps she has done something to this nation that we needed to have done. She has made us think, and look, and reach beyond the breach." He also noted: "We can no longer be a nation that overlooks the poor and the suffering and continue past the ghetto on our way to the Mardi Gras, or past Harlem for Manhattan, or past Compton for Rodeo Drive."