How angry would you be if President George W. Bush gave a speech in your community on Earth Day? I would be angry. For one, the eco-hostile president has a lot of nerve giving any speech at all on Earth Day, given his environmental track record. I’d be even more upset if his speech applauded an environmental initiative that has succeeded without government assistance. But that’s just what President Bush did in Wells, Maine, a town of some 10,000 people, including writer Michelle Cacho-Negrete. Her account of the maddening presidential oration, “In My House” (excerpt only available online), was published in The Sun, winner of a 2007 Utne Independent Press Award in the category of best writing.
Bush chose to speak at Laudholm Farm, a 1,600-acre nature reserve, because it had excelled with little governmental support. “Sure enough, during his speech,” Cacho-Negrete writes, “Bush would say, ‘Good conservation and stewardship do not rely on the government, and Laudholm Farm is a great example of people seizing the initiative.’ ” As Cacho-Negrete struggles with her decision to protest Bush’s speech and the farm’s decision to welcome his visit, she eloquently describes feelings of futility, anger, and guilt over the current administration’s dealings with the environment.
“None of my friends voted for Bush, yet every single one of them, like me, experiences some guilt simply by virtue of being an American,” she writes. “We are a nation ripped apart, furious with each other, half of us racked with remorse, half of us drenched in smug certainty, nearly all of us wondering what went wrong.”