by Jordan Zakarin
President Bush, speaking in his weekly radio address on Sunday in the wake of disastrous floods in the Midwest over the last three weeks, requested that Congress pass an emergency spending bill that would provide ample funds for photo opportunities in Iowa as well as potential other natural disasters that strike this summer.
“The good people of the Midwest have been devastated these past few weeks, with whole towns and farm communities destroyed,” Bush said. “Billions of dollars worth of damage has taken place, and they need to have the peace of mind that comes with thinking their President actually gives a damn. This money will provide them that, as well as fund other photo sessions in devastated areas still to be determined. It’s the least I can, and will, do.”
As heavy rains caused rushing rivers to crash down on the region, 24 levees, long considered to be in disrepair, ruptured, flooding small towns and valuable farm land. Factories, town squares and homes were destroyed, and experts say that as much as five million acres of valuable corn and soybeans cropland was destroyed. For the 40,000 people who were displaced from their homes, in addition to the tens of thousands more who saw their livelihoods disrupted or even washed away, Bush said he believed the best cure was “a brief stop-by, a stirring little speech and some photos of me huggin’ sad ladies on the cover of USA Today.”
Noting the juxtaposition between what many felt were his finest and his lowest hours in office, Bush insisted that this was the right course of action.
“Look what we were able to do with that rubble pile on September the 11th,” he said. “For so many, me grabbing that megaphone, swearing revenge, putting my arm around that old guy, it made them think, for at least a little while, that things would really be okay, that we’d get the guy responsible. Then with that hurricane or whatever a few years back, we were late on getting on the scene with that speech and the photos, and we still haven’t stopped hearing about it.”
The President defended preemptively in his address against those who might say his funding request was too pricey, noting the expenses that went along with both travel and a professional-level photo shoot were no small sum of money.
“There’s just so much involved, so much that goes into a staged photo-op like this,” Bush said. “First, they’ve got to drain the local airport and town square enough for me to even step down there. That’s a lot of cleanup, I hear. Then you’ve got to worry about things like lighting, and sometimes that requires rearranging buildings and temporary trailers so that the sun hits me just right. I like a soft lighting, gives me a bit of an angelic feel, and that’s tough to maintain when you’ve got 100 different photographers snapping at me.
“These things cost money, you know,” he continued, “especially if you want to do them real last minute, as so many of these events have to be, unfortunately. We’re working on that, too.”
Some of the funds would be allocated to a photo session next week in California, once firefighters were done putting out the hundreds of forest fires that have broken out across the state. The rest would be put aside, ready to dispense for headline grabbing photos as natural disaster season rolled through the summer.
“We’ll probably have a bunch more fires, and definitely a bunch of tornadoes in the Midwest,” Bush noted. “And with hurricane season coming up, it’s supposed to be a doozy this year, so we need to be prepared this time to be anywhere on the eastern seaboard, especially Florida. Luckily I have some friends down there, so that can keep costs down, but still, if I’ve learned one thing over the past seven years, you’ve gotta be prepared.”