September 06, 2005

President "Heck of a Job" Bush

From the Times-Picayune:

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still donít know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the cityís death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why werenít they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isnít suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didnít have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadnít known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "Weíve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that theyíve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies donít get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "Youíre doing a heck of a job."

Thatís unbelievable.

Well, it's not unbelievable, sadly. It has become standard operating procedure with this Administration. Colossal missteps are made (no serious attention paid to what might happen if the levees were breached, no thought of moving to expeditiously evacuate the Superdome, no apprecation that basic law and order might be grossly imperiled if the city became submerged in floodwaters, no contingency planning for an insurgency in Iraq, no appreciation of the full ramifications of tossing aside the Geneva Conventions) and time and again there is a staggering lack of accountability. Well, here at B.D. we're sick of the empty bear hugs and cutesy nicknames, the circle the wagons damage control mentality, cheap ass-covering and rampant buck-passing, the guitar-strumming and talk of Trent Lott's porch looking all antebellum swell post reconstruction and Kennebunkport 'let them move to Texas' insouciance. Above all else, B.D is sick of the sheer spectacle of grim incompetence that humiliated this nation as New Orleans descended into mayhem reminiscent of wartime Haiti or Liberia--with hundreds if not thousands perhaps needlessly dying because of government ineptitude (though the human toll would be immense even if the planning and governmental reaction had been far superior). There was massive culpability, to be sure, at the local and state level as well. But, make no mistake, the federal response during the first week was grotesquely amateur. Particularly with FEMA, of course, but also at the now so risibly named Department of Homeland Security. The government failed in its most fundamental duty--ensuring the basic physical safety of its citizens. And it failed miserably. Does anyone have confidence that, tomorrow say, if Tulsa or Peoria or Dallas or Chicago where attacked by a chemical or biological weapon--that our government would be able to mount an effective response? I certainly don't. After all, the government knew a Category 4 or 5 was about to slam into New Orleans. There won't be any such warning issued by al-Qaeda, of course. I'd like a tri-state national emergency area declared, as Newt Gingrich has suggested, with Rudy Giuliani in charge of mounting a massively ambitious reconstruction project through the Gulf Coast. I want to see adults at the helm, I want to see competence, I want to see seriousness of resolve and purpose, rather than clueless figures like Mike Brown being told they are doing a "heck of a job." I'll have my own in depth analysis of Katrina very soon, hopefully tomorrow night (I've been travelling non-stop since the disaster hit), but suffice it to say for now that, like David Brooks, B.D. has reached his "bursting point." See you tomorrow.

UPDATE: I see that comments were erroneously disabled here (and in another post a couple down). Apologies. They're back up now.

Posted by Gregory at September 6, 2005 03:24 AM | TrackBack (22)
Comments

in the "no serious attention payed to.." catagories may we add: the failure to prevent looting of tons of explosives from storage facilitys and the stripping of nuclear power plants during and after a military operation whose claimed purpose is to stop the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Posted by: Steve at September 7, 2005 06:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Your conversion into Andrew Sullivan proceeds apace...

Posted by: Kevin P. at September 8, 2005 04:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

SOME FRIENDS AND I ARE TALKING SERIOUSLY ABOUT ISSUING A BUMPER STICKER "HECK UV A JOB, BROWNIE". IF YOU ARE INTERESTED OR HAVE SUGGESTIONS DROP A LINE.

Posted by: Michael Harris at September 12, 2005 04:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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