A National Disgrace

The miserable, uninspired blogger who hasn’t written anything interesting in a month side of me wants to write off this latest bombshell with a pithy line like “go ahead and throw this in the corner with the other smoking guns”, but this really hit a nerve with me. Hit tip John at Crooks & Liars since that’s where I originally saw the video, but you can watch it below as well :

It’s times like these when I wish we had a parlimentary system of government. In most other democracies, a fuck-up that big would be quickly followed by a “no confidence” vote and new elections. In the USA, the aggressively incompetent leaders who get us into one catastrophe after another are allowed to stay and screw up the reconstruction process as well. So for the next three years, we’re stuck with the same assholes who got us into this mess, unless we can convince enough members of Congress that criminal negligence that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of people is a “high crime” or “misdemeanor”.

And let’s be clear here. If we’re gonna play the “blame game”, then all fingers should be pointed Bush-ward. With the August 28th briefing that we saw above, the President made this promise :

“I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm”

We all saw the videos of people trapped on their rooftops for days on end, begging for their lives. News personalities like Anderson Cooper and Geraldo Rivera were literally crying for help. State and local officials were begging for the federal aid that the President promised them in private. And there were unidentified corpses floating through the streets. It was an image that none of us could shake, but as Newsweek reported, the President didn’t know what the hell was going on :

The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. [Remember, the levees were breached on Monday. – g] Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.

How this could be—how the president of the United States could have even less “situational awareness,” as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century—is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace.

This last bit is a rerun of an earlier post, but there’s a context here that I think has been missed lately. Every one of these photos and their accompanying captions are from the same day, August 30th, the day after the levees in New Orleans were breached.


Before going on an helicopter tour of the New Orleans, Kenner, Metairie, Arabi, Slidell and Mandeville areas to assess the extent of Hurricane Katrina damage, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, center, expresses her concern for the victims Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005, in Baton Rouge, La. Blanco is surrounded by, from left, Louisiana National Guard Major General Bennett Landreneau, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La, FEMA director Mike Brown and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La. (AP Photo/Bill Feig, Pool)


Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., looks over flooded areas of New Orleans during a helicopter tour with Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005, after Hurricane Katrinamoved through the area. (AP Photo/Bill Feig, Pool)


Alabama Gov. Bob Riley surveys damage to beach houses along Dauphin Island, Ala., Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005, a day after Hurricane Katrina’s landfall along the Gulf Coast. (AP Photo/John David Mercer, Pool)


Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, center, speaks with, from left, Bonnita, Maria and Jimmy Baranyai and, from right Brittany Baranyai and Cheryl Davis, all from Kenner, La., at a Red Cross shelter, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005, in Little Rock, Ark. The family left their home in Kenner early Sunday before Hurricane Katrina hit the area. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)


Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, left, listens to James Jones, right, as he explains how his home, in the background, was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina as the governor tours storm damage in Fort Valley, Ga., Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. The governor left the Southern Governors meeting in Greensboro, N.C., for a helicopter and ground tour of the damage around the state. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)


President Bush plays a guitar presented to him by Country Singer Mark Wills, right, backstage following his visit to Naval Base Coronado, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Bush visited the base to deliver remarks on V-J Commemoration Day. (AP Photo/ABC News, Martha Raddatz)

At the time, I ended with the now-cliche remark that “Nero would be proud”, but I think Newsweek got it right. George W. Bush is a national disgrace. The American people counted on him to keep them safe, but that trust was clearly misplaced. The blood of hundreds of New Orleans residents is now on the President’s lazy, disinterested hands and we’re still stuck with him for another three years. Let’s just hope the republic can survive it.