Old Habits Die Hard

No, I’m not talking about the President’s drinking problem, I’m talking about his tendency to link everything to 9/11. (via Americablog)

Mr. Bush said he had been “thinking a lot” about the comparisons between the response to the attacks in New York and Washington, and the storm devastation. “We look at the destruction caused by Katrina, and our hearts break,” he said. Turning the subject to terrorists, he said: “They’re the kind of people who look at Katrina and wish they had caused it. We’re in a war against these people.”

Ahem, I’m going to take a deep breath and try to ignore the fact that reading the last paragraph just gave me a stomach ache. Now lemme try to address this without resorting to profanity….okay, here we go…

Mr. President, how would things be different if the flooding in New Orleans had been caused by a van full explosives parked next to one of the more than 300 miles of unguarded levees?[1] We don’t expect you to stop hurricanes from happening, but we do expect you to do everything you can to stop terrorists. Now I suppose you could point to the fact that there haven’t been any major terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 9/11[2], but preventing disasters from happening is only part of the job. Besides, to change the subject back from terrorism to Katrina, you screwed up there too.

Moving beyond that, the causes of the disaster are mostly irrelevant when it comes to emergency management[3], which is why the moment the flooding began, the government should have jumped into the full-scale disaster scenario that you were supposed to be preparing over the last four years. Hell, with a terrorist attack you’ve at least got the element of surprise card to play in this little blame game. In this case, you had a week to prepare and still screwed up.

So go ahead and link Katrina to 9/11. It just makes you look like a bigger failure.

1 : We can assume that if it were the work of one of our homegrown right-wing terrorists like Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph, the “war against these people” talk would morph into talk about “bad apples” and all that, but that’s something for another post…

2 : A rhetorical trick which also would have worked well on 9/10/01.

3 : That’s why FEMA was folded into the Department of Homeland Security in the first place.