"The people of New Orleans have gotta understand," the pResident repeated several times today at his press conference after touring the hurricane damage along the Gulf Coast, the frustration from criticism of his administration's response obvious in his voice. "They've gotta understand" -- that's a perfect snapshot of the attitude of this arrogant, privileged president. How dare newly homeless, tax-paying people who are living without food and water, terrorized by lawless gangs, with no certainty that after five days of horror they still have a future, question this man's leadership? They're supposed to just take his word that he "cares," that "help is on the way," that "progress is being made." They've "gotta" -- his implied order was surely a poor choice of words, though he commonly uses them, that betray his authoritarian mindset.
He ended his remarks with his usual unreal optimistic assessment, saying that the "good news" is that the Gulf Coast will be rebuilt better than ever. That should be great comfort to a city of a million and a half residents, who need the basic necessities of life, including jobs, right now, not in ten years or so.
The Sage and I spent our honeymoon in New Orleans, our favorite city, and have traveled back to the Crescent City to celebrate key anniversaries. We drove to N.O. after our wedding in NW Florida, passing through Mobile, Biloxi and Gulfport (where I lived for six years and still have relatives) several years after Hurricane Camille destroyed the area. I had seen the destruction several times during those intervening years, but The Sage had not. When we got to Biloxi, he was stunned, asking, "Haven't they begun reconstruction YET?" What he didn't know until I told him was that things were considerably better -- it just takes many years to complete rebuilding after such devastating destruction. So when people, particularly Bush, speak of "rebuilding" New Orleans, they neglect to say that we're not speaking in terms of months, or even several years. We're talking a decade or more.
It was maddening to hear Bush praise his incompetent political appointee, FEMA director Mike Brown, for doing a "great job" when all evidence is to the contrary. But Bush makes a habit of lauding his personal appointees no matter their performance; he seems to judge them on their personal loyalty to him, not their record.
"I'm satisfied with the response, I'm not satisfied with all the results," he said, smirking all the time. How can he possibly be satisfied with the former but not the latter? If the results aren't satisfactory, that is a direct condemnation of the action. But the Bush view doesn't reflect that kind of logic. He has absolutely no problem with non sequiturs.
Lou Dobbs keeps trying to blame the state and local governments in an equal measure with the federal government. Does he really think that the fourth poorest state in the U.S. (Mississippi is the poorest, and also suffered tremendous destruction and loss of life, so he could make the same bogus claim for that state) could provide anything like the pre- and post-disaster planning and logistics that the federal government could, and should, mount? Lou's explicit argument was that since New Orleans has a black mayor and what he called a "black power structure," African-Americans who are complaining should be aiming their criticism equally at those officials. What a display of ignorance. New Orleans may have a black mayor and many blacks on the police force, but the Chamber of Commerce and all real political power still reside with the white community, although it amounts to only 25% of the population. Only .04% of the N.O. black residents report incomes in excess of $200,000. Is anyone naive enough to believe that money isn't power in New Orleans, unlike every other city in America? Also, the governor and both U.S. Senators are white. At any rate, did anyone seriously criticize the local and state (but no! that means Jeb Bush) governments in Florida for unpreparedness related to Hurricanes Charley and Frances?
Lou's panel, Karen Tumulty, Ron Brownstein and Roger Simons, all agreed that the scariest thing we've learned from this experience is that we're very unprepared for a national terrorist attack.
And who's responsible for that? Bush Bush Bush Bush Bush Bush Bush Bush.