Monday, October 29, 2007

New Photo Opportunities in a Closed File

For those that thought the case on George W. Bush's leadership during natural disasters was closed, think again. He's out there in the fire right now kicking ass and taking names. Just see how the man has grown.

First, a recap.

When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the entire Gulf South region, Mr. President was missing in action. When this was going on....

...President Bush was busy doing other things...

Boy oh boy did Georgie get pounded in the papers. And by the Republican Congress.

Here is the President's assessment of FEMA chief Michael Brown days before Brown's resignation:

Here's what Michael Brown was busy with during the storm (from the NYT):

On Aug. 31, Mr. Bahamonde decided to send an e-mail message directly to Mr. Brown.

"I know you know, the situation is past critical," Mr. Bahamonde wrote. "Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water."'

An aide to Mr. Brown responded hours later that the director would need a restaurant in Baton Rouge that night. "It is very important that time is allowed for Mr. Brown to eat dinner," the message said.

(Emphasis mine, though it should be intuitive)

President Bush tumbled in the polls as a result of his anemic reaction to storms devastation, his cold indifference as he and his people played bureaucratic blame games with state and municipal officials as American citizens died on the streets. The whole episode, it seemed, would cast a dark shadow on his whole presidency, not even mentioning the unpopular war launched on fabricated premises. (oops) The President and his press machine were wise to whisk Mr. Bush into Jackson Square on some key anniversary dates and snap some photos of a leader determined to rebuild. Throw those babies in the Katrina file and shut that shit tight. Historians can sort it out later.

Fast forward to the wildfire disaster and the Bush team response?


Let's slow-forward (as if one could do real justice on a blog) through two agonizing years:

Health care failures.

Rebuilding an entire public school system.

Out of control murder and crime rates.

No mental health facilities.

Public Defender shortages.

Insurance company payout refusals.

Corruption of public offices.

Business woes.

What else am I missing, New Orleans? Sanitation, roads, LRA payouts, public transportation, much much much much more...

And that brings us to the tragic wildfires in California...

The disaster response was largely superb. Evacuees were treated with dignity and respect. They were given beyond basic food and water. They had a live band, massage, and acupuncture. Complete breakdown was avoided this time. Human beings weren't left to die for days on end.

And it's all because President Bush has learned his lesson....

....about photo opportunities and the pitfalls of press outrage.

Promptly arranged speeches, direct flights to California, emergency cabinet sessions replaced the ranch vacation of two years ago.

"Yes, Katrina was not handled well," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said curtly when peppered with questions about lessons learned. "The president accepted responsibility for that, and then he took action to fix it."

Yes, Katrina murdered us in the polls. We will do whatever necessary to make sure the next natural disaster is handled in a way befitting of the opinion numbers to which we aspire.

He has learned.

And President Bush did handle the immediate disaster here the way he was supposed to. He's proud of his administration's response. To be added to the file:

"We're not going to forget you in Washington, D.C.," Bush vowed after a tour of fire damage in Escondido, Calif. "We want the people to know there's a better day ahead; that today your life may look dismal, but tomorrow life is going to get better, and to the extent that the federal government can help you, we want to do so."

He has learned.

Think he could learn about that link list I got above? If he truly accepts responsibility for the failure of his leadership during Hurricane Katrina, think he might be interested in demonstrating his revamped leadership abilities by helping out his old victims down here?

Will Pose For Hospitals and Roads

So when you attempt to forget what you did to us two years ago by piling on Governor Blanco, why don't you try to remember how you're still screwing us today?


Carol Elaine said...

Hi E, I found a link to your blog on Ray's blog.

I gotta say, I understand your anger. I'm a Southern California girl, though nowhere near where the fires have been raging.

The thing is, the areas that have been hardest hit by the fires - northeastern San Diego County - are those primarily populated by rich white Republicans (the southeastern parts of the county - not so much). Plus, as you say, the PR fallout from the the horrendous way FEMA dealt with Katrina and its aftermath combined with the fact that the current FEMA head is not only competent but is a former firefghter himself leads to a response that is not only thoughtful but, in some cases, going a bit overboard.

Plus you mustn't forget that California's governor is a celebrity Republican who is a good friend to Bush, whereas Blanco is a non-celebrity Democrat. And most politicians look at California as nothing more than a political ATM, so they have to keep on our good side.

It is all manners of wrong, but I'm sure that all of that figures into the excellent response to the SoCal fires (which, glad that the folks down there have the excellent response and all) and why y'all got shafted - and are continuing to get shafted - in the worst possible ways.

John said...

well, jon stewart's got our back at least. did you see monday's daily show?

E said...

I want to be John Stewart when I grow up.