Fortunately, Gustav hasn’t turned out to be the nightmare that Katrina was three years ago, but once again it seems that from Bush to McCain the real problem is that their first response to any disaster, is their concern about how to make the best use of it for themselves. Their chief concern seems to range from what they wear to who is photographed with them. Mostly what this does is get in the way of the people trying to do their jobs such as trying to minimize the damage and the cost in human lives.We need much more than just political parties or individuals offering to help, because even though that is a good thing, what we desperately need is an effective public response to disaster, a government that works because it is run – to quote Paul Krugman of the NYT – “by people who understand that sometimes government is the solution after all. And that seems to be something undreamed of in either Mr. Bush’s or Mr. McCain’s philosophy”.
These national disasters are about more than failing to show up for a photo op and in the case of Katrina it was the failure of FEMA and other agencies that had been degraded by the Bush Administration, to show up promptly with food, water and first aid. At times like these we need prompt, efficient action to save lives and prevent as much destruction as possible. It does not need a candidate or even a president’s presence to help the area recover – all that is going to do is tie up traffic, disrupt relief efforts just as Bush’s arrival in New Orleans to congratulate Brownie did in New Orleans. Krugman reminds us that the firefighters who volunteered to help Katrina’s victims, found out that their first job was to stand next to Bush while the cameras rolled.
When are we, as a country going to wake up and realize that photo ops are not what being commander in chief is all about? It is about, for one thing, making sure that the top positions in departments such as FEMA are filled with someone other than political hacks and cronies. Government itself is not always the problem as Republicans would have you believe. In many cases it should be, could be, can be the answer, but only with competent public servants who make government work.This country is far too big, has too many people on all levels of the economic scale to have a leader who sees the very wealthy as the only constituents truly worth his time, concern and efforts. Color it any way you want because that’s what it all boils down to in the end for the current administration and there is little doubt that it will be echoed by John
There are two more storms brewing in the Atlantic tonight, let’s hope they wear themselves out before reaching our shores.
Monday and Exercises Again
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