Tuesday, September 06, 2005

When Hurricanes Hit and Presidents Fail

This last week has been a tragedy for millions of Americans across the gulf coast. This last week has also show then clay feet of the Bush administration and how they were washed away by hurricane Katrina.

Was George Bush responsible for hurricane Katrina? Some will argue that global warming, blah, blah, blah. I am not here to talk about the causes of the catastrophe, but about the aftermath of the catastrophe. Many conservatives have finally woken up and abandoned the president. Other Bush apologist still make excuses and lay blame everywhere but at the presidents feet. Were local officials to blame in this? Without question. They failed their citizens as well, but this does not excuse the poor response by the Bush administration. The fact remains that George Bush has failed us over and over as a president.

A president is only one man, true. But that one man sets the agenda and surrounds himself with the people that are directly responsible for the welfare of the American people. In both situations, Bush has failed.

I will wind things back a little. I will start this off with 9/11. Most Americans remember the fond thoughts of Bush after 9/11. He was strong, he was forth right, he was a leader. I always had my doubts, but Katrina has shown the true Bush. September 11th brought forth a great leader. But that leader was not Bush. That leader was Rudy Giuliani. While Giuliani was down at the world trade center site, directing the relief efforts and the rescue efforts, Bush was in a class room full of kids, unable to move. Even after the second plane had hit, Bush was unable to muster himself. Katrina brought forth no Giuliani. Bush was on his own and he failed. For Terri Schiavo, Bush flew back to DC in order to sign legislation. For Katrina, he stayed on vacation. If there had been no Giuliani in 2001, everyone would have seen Bush’s true leadership, but Giuliani saved Bush's butt. The American people stepped up this time. The relief workers, the donations, the average person filled in the shoes Giuliani emptied and the shoes Bush could not fill. As one person put it:

No, you don't expect the President to be God. "But you do expect him to be Rudolph Giuliani."

He was neither.

Bush's one redeeming factor in the eyes in the majority of the Americans who voted for him, was that he was going to keep us safer. "Moral values" may have been what put Bush over the top in 2004, but it was security that won him that election. People voted for him because they thought he would keep us safe. He failed. He had 4 years to plan for such an event. He had 4 years to make the homeland better equipped to deal with a catastrophe. It does not matter if it was natural or man made, the job that he was elected to do was to make us safer in the event of a devastating event. It should have taken no more than 48 hours for him to mobilize and deploy the needed relief effort. It took 6 days. After 4 years, we are no better, if not worse than before.

A presidency is mostly made up of the people that he surrounds himself with. After 9/11, Bush had the opportunity to surround himself with whoever he wanted. Instead of surrounding himself with people that can get a job done, he surrounded himself with sycophants and handed out rewards to loyalists instead of finding competent people. Instead of firing people for the poor performance in Iraq, he gave out congressional meddles of honor like candy. And now, we see Michael Brown It is the duty of the president to find the best equipped and most competent individuals to be extensions of himself. If these people are extensions of Bush, then that is a sad statement on the president himself.

We have seen now, what the governments response would have been for a man made disaster. We see how Bush responds in time of crisis when there is no Rudy Giuliani.

FEMA is the agency that is responsible to the coordination and execution of all disaster relief efforts. The excuse that it is up to local officials to carry out such events is bunk. It is the job of FEMA to know and to do. We had hundreds of well trained and competent FEMA personnel on the ground, ready to act, but without good leadership, they were only half as good as they could have been. The FEMA personnel on the ground in the devistated area worked their asses off, but forwhatever they could do, their efforst were hammpered by both the head of FEMA and the local officials. After the tsunami in South East Asia, we were air dropping supplies into some of the most remote areas on the planet within 48 hours. In New Orleans, it took six days. Are local officials to blame for not including public transportation out of town in this type of situation? Yes, without doubt they are to blame. But, regardless of if the citizens of New Orleans evacuated or not, FEMA knew that many of the cities residents would not/ could not evacuate years before hurricane Katrina. They knew immediately after Katrina that there were upwards of a hundred thousand American citizens left in the city. Nagin and Blanco should not be let off the hook here, but FEMA failed in there one and only job. And there is no excuse for it. Bush named Michael Brown to the post. Michael Brown answers to Bush. The buck stops with president Bush.

FEMA chief Brown: We learned about that [people at the convention center] (Thursday), so I have directed that we have all available resources to get that convention center to make sure that they have the food and water and medical care that they need.

How is it that everyone else in American knew except him.

Brown: I've had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word unrest means that people are beginning to riot, or you know, they're banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I've had no reports of that.

This was on Thursday. We all knew about the looting and violence since Tuesday. We knew of the suspended evacuations due to gun fire. We knew about the murders on the street. How did he not know?

Brown: Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well.

This just makes me want to hit him.

How many times will the American people let Bush off the hook just because they think he would be a fun guy to grab a beer with. How many more Americans have to die, here and overseas, before they will call Bush on his constant ability to name and rely on incompetent people to run this government. This 1970's malaise that has fallen over our country is not without cause. It is repeated bungles and botched leadership by those in power that have brought this upon us. Bush is not the only failure here, by any means, but anyone who fails to see him for what he truely is, is a fool or simply crazy.

For 4 years now, we have been told, stay the course, things will get better, but things are only getting worse. We can't get rid of Bush, but we can finally demand that he stop his insistent policy of surrounding himself with the arrogant, the meritless, and the incompetent.

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