Fair point from a reader, I guess I mispoke on the high dollar part:
“When Bush starts spending high dollars on the NEA…”
I agree with you on this (about NEA funding increases being a Souljah moment for Bush). For one thing, the NEA is (relatively speaking) under control — Mapplethorpe-class excesses seem to have disappeared, and a quick glance through the 2003 grants shows what looks like a “motherhood & apple pie for the arts” funding priority list.
But we’re only talking about a measly *$15-20 million* increase for NEA, in the context of a trillion dollar budget!!! We’re probably spending more than that on swamp rat sanctuaries in Mississippi! I suppose the folks who want to zero out the NEA can feel the sting of each penny as it is spent — but it’s really a nit in the overall scheme of things.
In exchange for such a minor price, Pres Bush shows that he’s got a warm spot in his heart for the Arts (probably with some advice from the beauteous Mrs Bush) and stands up to those mean, awful, artless conservatives who want to use the money to buy lug nuts for fighter planes. Not a bad investment, particularly if California will be in play this autumn…