Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Andrew Sullivan on Bush/Katrina

I guess he couldn't do this in an American outlet?

Well, whatever the case, Mr. Andrew goes off in the pages of The Times on Sunday:

Where was the urgency to get these soldiers to rescue the poor and drowning in nearby New Orleans, or the dying and dead in devastated Mississippi? The vice-president was nowhere to be seen. The secretary of state was observed shopping for shoes in New York City. The president had barely returned to Washington; and had already opined that nobody had foreseen the breaching of New Orleans’ levees.

Earth to Bush: the breaching of the levees had been foreseen for decades. If anyone wanted evidence that this president was completely divorced from reality, that statement was Exhibit A. It didn’t help coming after a five-week vacation, when most Americans are lucky to get two.

As chaos spread, the president seemed passive. He said on Friday that he was “satisfied” with the response, but not the results. What does that mean? Then he held a photo-op with Senator Trent Lott, whose house had been demolished. “The good news is — and it’s hard for some to see it now — that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before,” Bush said. “Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house — he’s lost his entire house — there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch.”

According to the official White House transcript, laughter followed that remark. Lott was Senate majority leader until a few years ago, when he was forced to resign because he said he regretted that racial desegregation had taken place in the South in the 1950s and 1960s. So while the poor and the black were drowning or dying, Bush chose to chuckle in the South. It beggared belief.

Wow. This just won't stop -- and unlike the 9/11 circling of wagons, this is really becoming a moment of questions, a moment of internal outrage and a moment of weakness for the authorities. It's not "Who caused the hurricane?" but "Who's to blame for the faulty response?" And that's always been a perfectly valid question. Tip to Jimmy....



Blogger Jeff said...

Questions, of course, are FINE. But the sense one gets reading you and Sullivan is that you've already decided that there can't be any adequate answers. It's just really cool and exciting that maybe you'll finally be able to drag that nasty Bush down.

THAT's NOT legitimate. That's just naked partisanship hiding behind a natural disaster.

Asking, "Why wasn't action taken sooner" is PERFECTLY legitimate--so long as you can imagine that there might actually be an ANSWER. The Federal government is not set up to send the army in overnight when there is a disaster. When the towers fell, New Yorkers HANDLED it--with very little federal assistance in the short term. It took time to become apparent that, for some reason, the Governor of Louisiana couldn't manage to handle the National Guard units which were under her control. When the Bush administration asked her for a unified control under Bush, she REFUSED, as is her right. (This is in today's New York Times.)

Did Bush do wrong anyway? Maybe so. Did the Governor of Louisiana have a good reason for doing what she did? Maybe so. A non-partisan discussion in which people avoid leaping to conclusions about their political opponents is to be welcomed. But do you even PRETEND that that's what you're doing? Or aren't you really rather indulging your political preferences? For fun; to stir up your audience and get 'em zesty?

Perfectly fine thing to do. But not noble. And especially IGNOBLE when it involves a disaster in which people are dying. Even when "everybody else is doing it."

6/9/05 22:57  
Blogger Todd said...

I go through my checklist: helped my wife pack up food, clothes, school supplies, and a few stuffed animals for the trailer heading south on Thursday. Now I can b**** about Bush.

His dad fumbled on Andrew. And Karl Rove notwithstanding, this one isn't going to get any better for the president. The opposition doesn't even have its first team on the field and already the Bushies are down 28-0 in the second quarter. Wait till the hearings are convened. Then you'll see the full information behind this incompetence, and you'll have all the armchair quarterbacks piling on to boot.

Let me suggest the lack of criticism of Bush is itself naked partisanship.

6/9/05 23:10  
Blogger Gyrovagus said...

Is this the same Andrew Sullivan who was upset that Pope Benedict XVI didn't seem likely to be celebrating gay and lesbian marriages in Saint Peter's?

Alas, he's no more familiar with the City of New Orleans Emergency Management Code than he is with the Code of Canon Law.

And thanks, Todd, for drinking the Kool-Aid and predicting the outcome of the hearings for us.

They'll only come out the way if - like the 9/11 Committee's "thorough investigation" of the Able Danger Divison - the following materials can be kept out of sight:


General evacuations that may result from an approaching hurricane will be ordered by the Mayor of the City, upon the recommendation of the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness. The area affected by the warning may range from blocks and portions of neighborhoods, to the entire city.

Authority to issue evacuations of elements of the population is vested in the Mayor. By Executive Order, the chief elected official, the Mayor of the City of New Orleans, has the authority to order the evacuation of residents threatened by an approaching hurricane.

Conduct of an actual evacuation will be the responsibility of the Mayor of New Orleans in coordination with the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, and the OEP Shelter Coordinator.

The authority to order the evacuation of residents threatened by an approaching hurricane is conferred to the Governor by Louisiana Statute. The Governor is granted the power to direct and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from a stricken or threatened area within the State, if he deems this action necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response or recovery. The same power to order an evacuation conferred upon the Governor is also delegated to each political subdivision of the State by Executive Order. This authority empowers the chief elected official of New Orleans, the Mayor of New Orleans, to order the evacuation of the parish residents threatened by an approaching hurricane.

The person responsible for recognition of hurricane related preparation needs and for the issuance of an evacuation order is the Mayor of the City of New Orleans. Concerning preparation needs and the issuance of an evacuation order, The Office of Emergency Preparedness should keep the Mayor advised.

Could the chain of command be any clearer? It starts with the DEMOCRATIC Mayor and moves to the DEMOCRATIC Governor - the evil BUSHIE had declared the place a federal disaster area TWO DAYS BEFORE Katrina made landfall, precisely so those two rocket scientists could get the show on the road.

Was Bush supposed to fly down there and declare martial law himself and have the Joint Chiefs running the City?

Did it not work there the way it worked in NYC on 9/11 because there were two many blacks (the other great Democratic - Mainstream Media rant) or because there were too few Rudy Giulianis?

And further up the chain, of course the big old bureaucracy of the Department of Homeland Security didn't work. Which Party pushed like crazy to establish that . . . . hmmmm?

And as for THIS Administration not fixing the levee system of New Orleans . . . see how quickly Bill Clinton deflected questions about THAT the other day, while touring the Astrodome with Bush I ?

If the forthcoming hearings go down THAT road, the Dems will have to send Sandy Berger back into the National Archives with a freshly enlarged jockstrap!

7/9/05 01:59  
Blogger Fr. John said...

There were enough mistakes for blame to be shared widely. The mayor of New Orleans, with the governor at his side, ordered and implemented the evacuation of everyone with a private car, but made no provision for the poor. They did not commandeer school buses, private buses, or demand that the airlines reopen the airport (that closed prematurely) to get people out before the hurricane. The mayor's police force had no effective emergency communication system, and in the initial days of the disaster just wasn't up to the job. The National Guard is under the command of the governor, and was not noticably quick to get on the scene, or effective when they did.

Having said that, FEMA seemed to be bogged down in red tape, bureaucratic nonsense, and not to have a clue until they were jump-started by an angry President.

The Congress, whose members not rant about the President, did not include infrastructure improvements in its budgets for several years.

7/9/05 05:01  
Blogger ELC said...

Lott was Senate majority leader until a few years ago, when he was forced to resign because he said he regretted that racial desegregation had taken place in the South in the 1950s and 1960s. May I suggest that you not quote such a flat-out lie without nothing that it's a flat-out lie?

7/9/05 09:54  
Blogger ELC said...

Sorry. That "nothing" should have been "noting". :-)

7/9/05 09:57  
Blogger Todd said...


All I said was that the full disclosure of incompetence was on its way, and I do think the locals have some share of the blame.

I think the raving Bush-haters will be active at that time as well.

I don't know what my kool-aid sludge said about the result of the hearings. Like Hermione Granger, I never had much use for divination. But it doesn't take much to see that a lot of people, including the president, will have their toes put to the fire on the handling of this episode.

7/9/05 12:41  
Blogger Jeff said...


Good points all. And Fr. John weighs in with measured questions, rather than infuriated pap.

Todd, the man who won't come clean on whether or not he believes binding Catholic teaching about female ordination, once again ducks and weaves instead of answering questions.

"Hey, Todd. What did Bush do wrong specifically; other than simply that bad things happened?"

No answer, except, "You guys who aren't attacking Bush are being partisan too" and "Oh, you'll see when the truth all comes out" and "Gee, let the LOCALS complain about the local incompetence; the President represents us all." And he says the Gospel tells him to do it.

I'm not attacking anybody. But people who use a disaster to offload their petty political grievances aren't behaving with decency, let alone charity.

Isn't it funny how those who preach that doctrine can safely be ignored so long as one is holy always feel perfectly justified in baring their fangs when secular politics comes into play?

7/9/05 13:01  
Blogger Todd said...

Jeff, a few things ...

First this is a thread about Bush/Katrina, not women's ordination. I do know that many conservatives have sort of a thing for the hot button feminist issues of the day ... or it could be there's a shortage of ADD meds in the house.

"Hey, Todd. What did Bush do wrong specifically; other than simply that bad things happened?"

As I've written in at least three places, the incompetent appointees to FEMA, if not DHS. Brown is a disaster; otherwise why was that CG admiral sent in to clean up the federal act and get things organized? Bush also bobbled his first public appearance after Katrina hit. It was almost as if he didn't care. It was a poor speech at a time when the US president needs to project an image of caring, strength, and confidence.

"But people who use a disaster to offload their petty political grievances aren't behaving with decency, let alone charity."

My criticism is of the Bush Administration's ineffectiveness in providing support in this emergency. I can't believe it would've been better if Al Qaeda had bombed the levies. Bush declared war on terrorists. Fine. But he'd better have something to back it up with if he's serious about it. And if he can't oversee effective disaster relief with two days' notice, how are we to expect he'll get it right if, God forbid, another 9/11 happens?

Bush and his appointees who were ineffective deserve the withering criticism they're getting. Bush is the leader. He's responsible. Jeff, it's not up to you to determine the motives of people criticizing the president. If you have something germane to the actual criticisms, or any praise to offer, just spit it out. Or of you'd prefer not to criticize W, just hold your pen. These are not hard choices.

8/9/05 23:18  

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