A Thousand Words: Brown, Bush, Foley

This photo is being circulated by the Democrats today:


The facts of the photo are, no doubt, utterly mundane. It's evidently from a 2005 post-hurricane event in Florida, the type of symbolic visit everyone's familiar with, designed to show that the government - the president, FEMA, Congress, the governor - are all on the case.

But you can't look at it now without feeling a little queasy. Events have assigned the image an entirely new set of symbols.

It's the men who represent three big debacles - Katrina, the Iraq war, and Foleygate. They come from across the government - the federal bureaucracy, the White House, and Congress. They're striding forward resolutely - seemingly unaware of what's really going on around them. The one thing they should pay attention to - a stop sign - is behind them. Even the other people in the photo, folks just walking along with the crowd, take on a strangely creepy cast. Jeb Bush is hanging back. And who is the young man just behind Foley?

We've had a lot of history happen the past two years - and even more the past two weeks.

John McQuaid is the co-author of Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms.