Facing Down Katrina, Bush Declares War on Wet
September 1, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Faced with increasingly dire conditions in the area devastated by Hurricane Katrina and mounting pressure to act decisively, President Bush Wednesday offered a sweeping initiative: a new American War on Wet.
"We have been hit again," said the President, on a podium flanked by Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice, and A.G. Lafley, CEO of Proctor & Gamble, which manufactures Bounty brand paper towels. "Now it is time to respond. Not just in New Orleans and its environs, but everywhere this threat can bring us harm. Today begins America's War on Wet!"
The President did not comment on the large-scale strategic details of WOW!, the acronym given in official White House press releases. He did, however, give on example of a way citizens can begin to participate symbolically. "Starting tomorrow, I hope every household in America will display their solidarity with this initiative by placing a single bowl of water in a visible place. If we all do that, then wherever you go in this great country, you will see the resolve of water cracking as it dries up, hour by hour, day by day. We will stand for no result but victory."
Pressed on the unconventionality of declaring war on an adjective, senior White House staff defended the decision. "Before President Bush took office, some thought America could only declare war on nations, or at least groups of people," said one such source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the security issues involved. "We have by turns demonstrated that we can wage war against a tactic--terrorism--or even the feeling of terror itself. Far from overreaching, fighting an adjective is an obvious next step."
Multiple sources close to leading Democrats said that the party's leaders privately express reservations about WOW!, citing the difficulty of maintaining human life without regular water intake, but no Democrat has yet been willing to oppose the President publicly, and many have spoken out to support him. "This is not a time for politics," said 2008 Presidential hopeful and Delaware Senator Joseph Biden, holding a large bowl of water. "We may have questions about the specific strategies of the President's plan as details emerge, but for now, we stand with the Commander-in-Chief and share his resolve."
Right-wing media personalities and religious leaders immediately sought to isolate Democrats from WOW!. Syndicated talk-show host Rush Limbaugh commented, "Everyone knows that with a Democrat in the White House, we might have maintained funding for FEMA's disaster response capabilities, the levees around New Orleans, and the readiness of the National Guard. But only President Bush could have come up with WOW!, and you can see the Democrats seething about that." Later in the day, Reverend Jerry Falwell, head of Falwell Ministries, added a demographic point. "Look at any electoral map," he said. "Where do liberals live? On the coasts. In river cities. In short, wet places. What do you find in the nation's deserts? Bibles and dry, dry sand. The Democrats talk a good game now, but it's just a matter of time before their real loyalties become clear." None of the 32 million registered Democrats who live near oceans, lakes, and rivers was available to comment on Falwell's allegations.
The President and his top staff will depart Friday for a series of speaking engagements, informally dubbed the "Like WOW!" tour, designed to foster public support for the newly formed initiative.