Harry S. Truman Library
When the number 1 chief bellows, “Get to work,” that’s all it takes.
In my work experience, from retail clerk to corporate highway to store owner, when people needed direction, details could follow, but command alone always brought energy and ideas to bear, and got things done, where there was confusion and lack of cohesion without the leadership.
When President Bush needed to command, “Get to work,” as presidents do, in so many words, last Monday after the flooding of the Gulf coast, he was not available for the job. Fingers can point all they want from now until the ultimate “Katrina Commission” review comes out in two years with recommendations on how to avoid another catastrophe of missing leadership like this one. None of the analysis will matter more than one thing: Harry Truman closed the argument once and for all, when he was asked what the responsibility of the President of the United States is in a crisis of decision: THE BUCK STOPS HERE.
Whether the Mayor of New Orleans should have acted more strongly at first to evacuate his city, whether the Governor of Louisiana should have phoned up for federal help instead of hesitating, whether the impotent Director of Homeland Security and his underlings, including the incompetent director of FEMA, should have called up the troops earlier to help get food and water to the sick and dying—all that doesn’t matter when the head guy--Number One, on vacation, or drumming up support for Medicare reforms and the Iraq War on the West Coast, far from the immediate problem at hand in the Gulf States--is off the clock, the work doesn’t get done.
Today is not too soon to point the finger at him, because if he can’t handle the job properly, at least get someone who can, like Rudy Giuliani, or Jesse Ventura—appoint some high-impact guy to run the show, shout some commands, get some action in action--then pat yourself on the back as the job you delegated gets done well enough to save some lives that are still waiting to be saved.
In a letter to the Senate's Homeland Security Committee chairwoman, Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, pressed for a wide-ranging investigation and answers to several questions, including: "How much time did the president spend dealing with this emerging crisis while he was on vacation? Did the fact that he was outside of Washington, D.C., have any effect on the federal government's response?"
At a news conference, Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush's choice for head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency had "absolutely no credentials."
She related that she had urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire Michael Brown. "He said 'Why would I do that?'" Pelosi
said. "'I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week.' And he said 'What didn't go right?'" "Oblivious, in denial, dangerous," she added.[emphasis added]—ABC News
As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for
firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta.
Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.
Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations
officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA...
...As specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.—Salt Lake Triune
Here's one for the Hypocrisy Hall of Fame: At the same time the
administration is putting Karl Rove's "pin-the-blame-on-the-locals"
plan into effect, President Bush told reporters gathered at a cabinet meeting today, "I think that one of the things that people want us to do here is play a blame game. We've got to solve problems. We're problem solvers. There will be ample time for people to figure out what went right and what went wrong. What I'm interested in is helping save lives…"
…This is clearly going to be a very long recovery process. And the
sooner we've identified those responsible for the Katrina tragedy, the sooner we can make sure they're not around to screw up the recovery.So, yes, now is precisely the time for assessing blame. Let a thousand pointed fingers bloom!—Arriana Huffington, Blog
Before joining the Bush administration in 2001, Brown spent 11 years as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, a breeders' and horse-show organization based in Colorado.
"We do disciplinary actions, certification of (show trial) judges. We hold classes to train people to become judges and stewards. And we keep records,'' explained a spokeswoman for the IAHA commissioner's office. `This was his full-time job . . . for 11 years,'' she added.
Brown was forced out of the position after a spate of lawsuits over alleged supervision failures. "He was asked to resign,'' Bill Pennington, president of the IAHA at the time, confirmed last
night.—Boston Herald American 9/3/05
In today's final spin cycle, there's FEMA's effort to block the news media from showing pictures of dead bodies recovered--or discovered--from Katrina's wrath. Hmm. This sounds vaguely familiar. Oh yes! The federal government hasn't allowed pictures of the thousands of military coffins brought back from the War in Iraq.
Of the Katrina victims, a FEMA spokeswoman said, "the recovery of the victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect." If they had treated the living that way, there wouldn't be as many dead.
Do they really think we're stupid enough to buy that excuse? Well, yes they do. This latest attempt to control our collective outrage is an attempt to cover up what will certainly prove to be a far bigger death toll than even from Iraq.—Daily Sally Blog
As horrific are the results of the Katrina disaster and Bush's failure to prepare for or respond to it, in the long run it is the death of Rehnquist and the nomination of Roberts that are far more important and will have the most lasting impact on the country. By being able to fill two Court vacancies -- Bush will soon nominate a new associate justice in Roberts' stead -- this most conservative White House since the Coolidge era will be able to put a conservative lock on the Supreme Court for decades (Roberts relatively young age
means he's got a good thirty-plus years of judicial mileage left on him).
With two new hard-right judges, any microscopic hopes of putting together five-member Court coalitions to frustrate some of the Republicans' more outrageous Constitution-shredding assaults on what remains of our civil liberties are eradicated. The Bill of Rights is already under ferocious attack from the conservative Republicans and their Christian right shock-troops. This symbiotic collaboration has a host of cases -- some brought to challenge liberticide legislation passed by the Republican Congress, some by Christer lawsuits designed to further demolish the barriers between church and state and roll back the clock on progress by women and gays -- are already making their way up the judicial food chain to the Supreme Court, and a number of them are to be heard in the Court's coming fall term.—Doug Ireland, Direland
Here's a stunner: According to a Gallup Survey, 25% of the American people believe that the sun rotates around the earth. Another poll tells us that --- among Americans registered to vote --- '38% approve of the way George Bush is handling his job as president.' That's like an all-time low. Nixon was more popular.
But it's really worse than 38%.
I don't know how many in the Earthcentric cohort are registered to vote --- or, for that matter, can even read --- but given how the worst are passionate and the best lack all conviction, let's say 15% of them voted. Three guesses who they voted for in the last election.
If 38% think Bush is doing a good job and we know that 15% of them are certified cretins, that leaves a resounding 23% of the American people who are not known to be idjuts who currently support our President.
One might ask how a President can hope to govern with approval numbers that low.
The Received Wisdom --- even among traditional 'Bush Is God' supporters like the Wall Street Journal --- describes Bush as "damaged" and "weakened." I disagree.
In the upside-down, defeat-is-victory universe of the Bush
Administration, reality is for suckers. You like facts? You're a loser. Believe what you read in the papers? Man, that's weak. Here at the White House, we see a bigger picture --- the way America could be, the way it should be. Reality is clay for us. We shape it. Bake it. Decorate it. And serve it up to you, fragrant as a Cinnebon. (That's 670 calories and 34 grams of fat. Mmmm, good eatin'. And good for you, too, so long as, like the President, you burn it off with daily workouts.)
So the White House isn't weakened until it tells you it is. And that's not what it's telling us today. Remember those military guys and Southern pols who kicked the stuffing out of the Bushies last weekend for being late and uncaring and barely competent to wipe themselves? They're recanting today. And why? Because phone calls were made. And these careerists decided they really liked their jobs after all.
Liberal friends of mine have been strangely energized the last few days. They cried with Geraldo when he held that baby and cheered Shepard Smith as he told Hannity off, and they saw a new day dawning in America --- reporters asking tough questions, Administration officials stumbling, some white guy somewhere actually getting fired.
Sorry, kids. You're forgetting a few things. First is that the White
House clamp on the private parts of just about every Republican in Congress couldn't be tighter. Karl Rove has made it very plain: You're with us or with the terrorists. And so Senators and Congressmen who may talk big with a few scotches inside them knuckle under and vote the Party Line. Every single time. What George wants, George gets.
Read it and weep: John Roberts will be confirmed in a breeze. The
estate tax will be repealed. And George Bush will look into his own colossal failure --- as he said today, "I intend to lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong" ---- and find he did nothing wrong.—Jesse Kornbluth, Swami Uptown Blog, Beliefnet.com 9/6/05