Monday, January 12, 2009

One final infuriation

This is an entertainment blog, not a political one, but I’ve just listened to a bit of George Bush’s final press conference. I try to keep my politics fairly private these days, but I still have a few hot buttons that will always elicit a response, the most sensitive of which is Hurricane Katrina. So forgive me this tirade. It's probably my last shot at an easy target.

When a reporter asked Bush about what I would assume to be an undeniable failure of his administration, the president was not apologetic, or even reflective. Instead, he was characteristically defensive. "Don't tell me the federal response was slow when there were 30,000 people pulled from roofs when the storm passed," he barked, asking the reporter to consider the feelings of the helicopter pilots who made the rescues.
So, with three years to reflect on the tragic debacle of Katrina, the best defense George Bush can come up with is “Well, at least we didn’t let everybody die!” Don’t you see? The response of federal, state and local governments may have been deeply, fatally incompetent, but at least it wasn’t 100% incompetent!

Remember that dreadful news story last year about Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who’d imprisoned, raped and impregnated his own daughter repeatedly for 24 years? When Fritzl was given the chance to speak to the press, he complained about their one-sidedness, telling them, “I’m no monster… I could have killed all of them, and nothing would have ever been known about it. No one would have ever found about it.”

Fritzl’s defense was that he deserved sympathy because although his deeds were horrible, they could have been even worse. Similarly, George Bush doesn’t see why we’d focus on the thousands of Americans who died of drowning, starvation and worse on his watch. We should really be commending him for the people that FEMA
didn’t leave to bake in their own attics.

I know it’s hyperbolic to compare an American President to an incestuous rapist, and I also realize that the Bush administration is far from alone in shouldering the blame for Katrina. But again, this is my hot-button issue, and Bush’s cavalier attitude and refusal to own up to this failure invites hyperbole.

No matter what you say, Mr. Fritzl, you are indeed a monster. And so, Mr. Bush, are you.

- Ira Brooker


  1. Hey - nice post, Ira. I clicked from twitter, and I'm glad I did.

    Katrina was that watershed moment in my life when I realized that I was just going to be angry for the rest of my life, and, yes, I hit the roof when he said that too. As if he can take credit for the coast guard doing what they're trained to do. Deploying the military to do an immediate task isn't hard (see: the first week of any military venture in the last 20 years); now, using all of the agencies at your disposal to solve a protracted problem? Well, that's why we elect people to be president, because presumably they know how to do that kind of thing. So, yes, Bush failed miserably at doing that.

    But that isn't what is infuriating. We've had lots of inept politicians in national office before. It's his attitude that says there is no way he could have failed - and that's the link to everything this administration has done: They knew better than everyone else on Iraq, they knew better on stem cells, they knew better on torture, and the list goes on and on.

    I summed up my Katrina experience here: (about half way down on page 3 of the comments - I'm RecoveringPitchforkAddict)

  2. Wow, thanks for linking that, Ian. That's a side of the story we haven't heard often enough. There's just frustration every way you turn, from the botched evacuation to the sluggish rescue effort to the perennially delayed rebuilding.

    It's really astonishing how every level of government failed so miserably in this case, from the White House to the mayor's office. I was in New Orleans six weeks after the storm, and the most horrifying thing I saw was a municipal parking lot filled with flooded-out school buses. Hundreds of people could have made it to Houston in those buses, but the emergency response system was too backwards to even get on the roads.

    Like you, I could go on and on about Katrina if I didn't stop myself. I've written plenty about it in the past, and I'm sure I'll continue to in the future. Here are a few more pieces: