So now we have the President, his jaw firm, surrounded by a dazed looking General Richard Meyers (Chairman, Joint Chiefs), grimly resolute Donald Rumsfeld (Secretary of Defense) and semi-stunned Mike Chertoff (Secretary, Homeland Security), trying to make up lost time, lost face and lost reputation for the sleaziest of reasons. Even Dick Cheney dropped in from his undisclosed location to orchestrate and lend his immoral support to this charade on the White House lawn.
It has nothing to do with people who are homeless and ravaged by a storm unknown in their lifetimes, nothing to do with making amends to those who have lost everything they ever had, even though that wasn’t much. It has to do with salvaging his second-term agenda. A second-term devoted to the same values as his first term, making the wealthy wealthier while ignoring the realities of a country deeply divided in economic as well as philosophical terms. How shallow in times of national disaster. How self-serving. This man is a mile wide and an inch deep.
I’ve purposely stayed off this subject, because God knows it’s had enough press and conjecture. The entire media is swept up in showing these New Orleans victims of first an historic hurricane and then the ineptness of our government in some sort of sadistic dance, as if it were a ratings-game and the Nielsens were poised with the over-nights.
Michael Chertoff, with a ‘what the hell am I doing here, it’s a storm, not a terrorist attack’ expression, made the comment that "Not an hour goes by that we do not spend a lot of time thinking about the people who are actively suffering.” Can’t anyone in this administration put together a sentence that actually means something?
Analysts and some Republicans (proving, I guess, that the two are not mutually exclusive) said the storm is a long-term threat to the Presidency, caused by the perception that the White House had failed to respond to the crisis. What a crock. What an absolute failure to personalize. What a disgrace and disservice to those the government has left dying while it dithers, abandoned while it searches for a scapegoat. The storm is not a long-term threat to the presidency, the President is.
And don’t put this one off again as a perception. It’s not a perception. The storm is merely one more crisis where this president has failed us, run off to hide his head in denial and then returned to blame others.
According to the New York Times, Donald Green, a professor of political science at Yale University, said: "The possibility for very serious damage to the administration exists. The unmistakable conclusion one would draw from this was this was a massive administration failure." Well, Don, that’s a pretty esoteric Yale-type point of view and frankly it’s way past time for serious damage to this administration. This president and his accomplices (one can hardly call them much else) have done massive and continuing damage to this country. It’s time to stop having these polite little chats about what this poor-soul president will do to redeem himself.
There is speculation that the deployment of National Guard units to Iraq had contributed to the slow response. That’s absolutely false. There are troops now in double-quick time. It’s incomprehensible that Michael Brown, the head of FEMA didn’t even know that 25,000 people were stranded and dying in the SuperDome until Thursday of this past week. 100 Blackhawk helicopters could have cleared the SuperDome and then busied themselves at the Convention Center. In a day. 100 Blackhawks. This country doesn’t have 100 Blackhawks?
Close down FEMA, it’s a wasted effort. Michael Chertoff got a free look at what he’ll be up against if we have a major terrorist-inspired urban disaster. And it ain’t pretty. If this is as ready as four years and 20-30 billion dollars can get us, we’re in really deep doo-doo. Born out of the confused and uncertain response to 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security has shown itself to be confused and uncertain at their first outing. And they knew this storm was coming. Terrorists aren’t likely to give a similar warning. Mike has reason to sweat.
The major reason behind the slow response is due to an absolutely isolated administration that cares only about its wrongheaded agenda and political survival. That it has survived thus far is a lesson in the weakness of democratic systems overpowered by media. Demagoguery replaces oppositional politics and ideology is sold like toothpaste, the loyal opposition made out to be disloyal, disruptive and unpatriotic. God help you if you oppose this administration.
The great presidents have had one defining common denominator; they have all brought us together as a nation in times of stress. George Bush is a divider, a sniper, a bully, a moral coward and a man isolated from the ‘fellow Americans’ he addresses. He obviously has no common point of contact with the disadvantaged, the forgotten, the left behind.
He came to New Orleans, metaphorically covered his nose and left. Blame will follow as surely as Thursday follows Friday.