September 1, 2005

Who Is Leading In This Crisis?

Worst. President. Ever.

“A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource to rescue the stranded, find and bury the dead, and keep the survivors fed, clothed, sheltered and free of disease,” the editorial declared. “The cool, confident, intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, has vanished. In its place is a diffident detachment unsuitable for the leader of a nation facing war, natural disaster and economic uncertainty.

That, from the conservative Manchester Union Leader. Sent along by my father-in-law, Greg.

McCabe sent around a link to this David Brooks Op-Ed:

Civic arrangements work or they fail. Leaders are found worthy or wanting. What’s happening in New Orleans and Mississippi today is a human tragedy. But take a close look at the people you see wandering, devastated, around New Orleans: they are predominantly black and poor. The political disturbances are still to come.

His daughter sent this around:

Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president’s demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.

While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast’s most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans’s levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane’s surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area’s flood protection?

WTF, Dubya? Was taking care of our citizens in need never part of the NeoCon agenda?

Give us one of your smarmy smirks and everything will be OK!

Posted by James at September 1, 2005 4:12 PM
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I suppose this is old news by now, but it's important to realize that money that was earmarked for New Orleans levee reconstruction and rehabilitation was used in Iraq. I'm thrilled that a contracting firm like Halliburton can walk off with $9billion while there. I'll bet they couldn't have done that on Lake Pontchartrain.

Posted by: ThirdMate at September 1, 2005 5:24 PM

I'm as thrilled as you are. I'm just sittin' here waiting for that $9 billion to "trickle down" to me. Waiting... waiting... waiting...

Posted by: Julie at September 1, 2005 6:30 PM

Variations on these two images have been floating around the internet.

Allegedly the same afternoon this was taken...

...our chief executive was doing this.

The commenter's comparison to Nero seems apt.

Posted by: Mike at September 1, 2005 7:32 PM

the veneer is crumbling. yay. But really? Who should be surprised by this? The guy was clueless about what to do after 911, too. At least until one of his trainers pointed out that this was a possible in to the oil fields of Iraq.

And, besides, his job: "It's hard work"

I hope he takes another vacation soon.


Posted by: at September 1, 2005 9:03 PM

I'm almost surprised to see that they printed that. The Union Leader is not known in this household as providing reasoned coverage of the news, or editorials.

Posted by: Jim at September 1, 2005 10:11 PM

Condi seems to have the shoe-shopping and theater-going in NY thing down pretty well.

Posted by: ThirdMate at September 1, 2005 10:38 PM

As much as I dislike the president (read: with every fiber of my being), I have to say he can't just push a button and make it better.

I was wondering how many people could be brought out by a fleet of C20s and C17s, but then Bob asked me where the hell they would land these things.

I wish the funding for SELA had not been cut. What the Netherlands did to protect themselves from flooding should have been done for LA a very very long time ago. I am shocked that this hadn't been taken care of.

So, on a tangent of sorts, here's how we can help:

Please please please don't forget about all the animals who can't take care of themselves. or, if you're outside of MA,

I had been meaning all week to donate to the MSPCA, and this story in today's Boston Globe reminded me of how important it is that I give to the MSPCA who will work to coordinate care for stranded and abandoned pets.
Evacuees have to leave their pets behind

NEW ORLEANS -- At the front of the line, the weary evacuees waded through ankle-deep water, grabbed a bottle of water from state troopers and happily hopped on buses that would deliver them from the Superdome.

At the back end of the line, people jammed against police barricades in the rain. Some evacuees passed out and had to be lifted hand-over-hand overhead to medics. Pets were not allowed on the bus, and when a police officer confiscated a boy's dog, the child cried until he vomited. ''Snowball, Snowball," he cried.

Miranda Jones was carrying her father's ashes -- the only thing she and her mother were able to save from their house.
Just imagine this poor child. He's been through absolute hell and managed to keep hold of his dog, a living, breathing creature that is part of the life he used to have before complete and utter devastation turned his world into chaos, and he has to leave it behind, not knowing if anyone will take care of it.

Posted by: Patti M. at September 2, 2005 8:52 AM

I guess there are a couple of things a president can do.

One, it's a little late for. One, the president and Congress could have not taken money earmarked to mitigate this PREDICTED devestation (this was one of the top 3 crisis scenarios predicted by FEMA before 9/11, the other two being a terrorist attack on NYC and another SF earthquake) and diverted it to his Iraqi adventure.

Two, an actual leader inspires people in a time of crisis. I've seen what a leader can do, and it's a lot harder than pushing a button. And our leader is not doing it.

Seen the vice president lately?

A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken.

No one can say they didn't see it coming.

But, I'll give you this. When you've exacerbated the problem beforehand it makes it much tougher to provide credible leadership later. I can understand that dynamic.

Posted by: James at September 2, 2005 12:04 PM

From the BBC:

Bush said "Every life is precious and so we are going to spend a lot of time saving lives, whether it be in New Orleans or on the coast of Mississippi. We have a responsibility to help clean up this mess."

Too bad every life wasn't precious enough to fund SELA. This is just like the Republican credo that every life is precious and that's why we have to make legal abortion impossible. Once you're born, though, to hell with you.

Posted by: Patti M. at September 2, 2005 2:28 PM

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