When you look at the aftermath of Katrina, one thing I can’t get my head around is Bush’s personal reaction. There are more important issues to deal with, such as the role of modern conservative ideology in all of this and the foolish reliance on state and local governments (have any of these people ever followed state and local governments? Why would you ever want to government over to those crooks–I’ll have more to say about this in a bit). But Little Lord Pontchartrain’s reaction is important, if for no other reason, he will still be president for three more years, and he will have to cope with more natural disasters.
I was never a big Giulliani fan, but I see could that on Sept. 11, his guts were ripped out. I’m sure, like the experienced pol he was, that he was considering all the angles, but still, I think his pain was genuine–his city was hit, and hit badly. But Bush just doesn’t appear to give a damn. He doesn’t seem to actually feel any sadness or pain about this. He doesn’t appear to feel any humiliation or shame as bureaucratic ineptitude at all levels, including the federal level, left his fellow citizens to wallow and die in their own refuse while the world watched.
Miss Alli at This Is Not Over puts it quite eloquently:
Let’s assume we’re not deciding who should have done what at what time.
My problem with Bush — and here, I do indeed address Bush individually, as a guy — is that during the time that the crisis was developing, from Monday to Friday, he never seemed to experience any actual sense of urgency as a result of the simple fact that people were, minute by minute and hour by hour, dying.
Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt that he was being prevented from acting by bureaucracy and the sheer magnitude of the situation. Where are the stories of how he was in his office freaking the fuck out because there were tens of thousands of Americans trapped without food and water? Where’s the story of how he ripped a strip off of somebody, demanding to know what the holy hell the holdup is getting water and food to those people?
… I want to hear that he acted at some point out of genuine despondency about the fact that citizens of the country he is supposed to be running were being starved and dehydrated in a hellish, fetid prison…
…Say what you want about the mayor and governor — those people were in pain. They saw people suffering and dying and took it as a given that it couldn’t go on that way, and that if it did, government’s response would be a failure. The mayor cried at the top of his lungs for help. I want to hear that Bush cried at the top of his lungs for help….
I want him to have gotten on the damn phone and told somebody that if there wasn’t water for every person at the Superdome within eight hours, that person’s head was going to roll, and he didn’t care how it got done, it had better get done. I want him not to have sat around on his ass on vacation while people’s children were being taken from their arms to be rescued….
I want him to have felt like a profound failure because an entire segment of the population of one of America’s greatest cities was suffering and was at risk of starving to death, but he didn’t…
Here’s the thing about being President: you might not have been elected by all the people, but part of the job is to serve all the people, not just those who voted for you, and not just those who are like you. It is a measure of his smallness and pettiness that, in a dire hour, he did not understand this.