I am really tired of how those who seek to excuse the President's slow and ham-handed response to the tragedy that this nation suffered, continue to blame Louisiana Governor Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Nagin and say that it is all their failings.
The scope of the devastation and the emergency were way beyond what the city or state could handle in any circumstances. The largest city in the state was destroyed, as well as most, if not all, of its suburbs. Also, some rural parishes (the name for a county in Louisiana) along the coast. Additionally, three quarters of the parishes in the state suffered significant damage (Baton Rouge had three feet of water). The idea that any state (let alone any municipality) could deal with such an enormous disaster just using state resources is ridiculous on the face of it. Even ignoring the fact that the Louisiana national guard was deployed in Iraq and the Federal Government, with five days of advance warning, made NO moves to replace the manpower in case it was needed until the political pressure forced them to move, There was simply not enough manpower to handle this. Frankly, to blame state and local officials belittles those who went beyond the line of duty-- some of the first responders literally went for a full week on the job with little or no sleep, and knowing full well that in such chaos it is unlikely they will be paid on time, or at all. Two New Orleans police officers were literally so overwhelmed that they committed suicide, and many others, as well as state police, turned in their badges. The state and local officials used every single person at their disposal, but it was not enough. I live in Arizona, and the equivalent here would be if Maricopa county (Phoenix and surrounding area) suddenly became uninhabitable, asking that the rest of us in Arizona take care of it ourselves just using state resources. That would simply be too Herculanean of a task.
To protect the citizens is the job of the Federal Government. And they say not to point fingers-- there is a good reason for that; They have failed in every way imaginable (I've been detailing it in other posts) from cutting funding requests to repair and maintain levies, to ignoring the 2001 FEMA report that made it clear that this would happen sooner or later unless major upgrades were made, to failing to use the billions spent on Homeland Security to improve training and coordination among first responders and the Federal Government, to blocking aid from Chicago and other jurisdictions.
But I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. We have the most inept President I can remember. And not all conservatives are inept. I was never a fan of Reagan, but he did know how to recognize a problem and when to stay the course and when to change his approach.
Bush, in contrast, has the following sorry record:
2001: Massive tax cuts. Result: record surplus turned into a record deficit, job losses instead of gains as promised.
2001: Met with President Fox, promised to 'fix' immigration problems and secure the border. Result: Apparently 'fix' and 'secure' means 'ignore' and 'let in worse things' in Bush's lexicon.
2001: 9/11; War on terror begins. Result: still looking for Osama. Not only is he free to plan more attacks on America, but by putting the war in Afghanistan on the back burner we have settled for a bloody war of attrition and are letting the country go back to the semi-feudal, warlord dominated state where he was able to find refuge in the first place.
2001: Creation of Homeland Security Department: Designed to train First Responders, as well as coordinate state, local and Federal agencies to handle something even on the scale of a nuclear attack. FEMA was eliminated as a cabinet level agency and folded into the Homeland Security Deparment. Result: Four years after 9/11, and we clearly haven't gotten any results from the billions invested, except maybe that the Government now has the right to read your email. And local cops now have to spend more money on 'terror alert' stuff, meaning less time fighting crime in your neighborhood. Beyond that, well see last week and let me know if you think the dollars were spent as intended.
2001: De-emphasized healthcare issues, deciding that the healthcare system was fine as it was and that the market would take care of it. Result: The number of Americans with healthcare insurance has declined, medical costs have increased at a double digit clip, America now spends a higher percentage of its GDP on healthcare than any other nation, and we have a critical nursing shortage.
2002: Iraq invasion (for stated reasons of WMD, but we never let Blix actually find out if there were any). We know how this one is turning out. About the best outcome that it is realistic to hope for from here is to get out of there with no more than 2000 Americans dead and an Iranian style Islamic republic where women have the right to go to junior high school.
2003: The big Bush energy bill becomes law. Massive tax dollars spent to subsidize oil companies in finding new fuel sources, and they get the right to drill in environmentally sensitive areas in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2005, the same oil companies get the right to drill in ANWR (meaning that Republicans have now gotten almost everything they ever asked for in the area of energy, with the help of Democrats from oil states). Result: You've been seeing it all year at your corner gas station.
2004: Medicare prescription drug bill. Result: Less than half of seniors indicate that they intend to sign up for the complicated and not very helpful plan. But billions more of your tax dollars are going directly to pharmaceutical companies. By now, corporate welfare annually costs several times as much as individual welfare, but you don't hear the people who talk about 'welfare queens' complaining about this turkey-- mostly, they VOTED for it.
2004: Valerie Plame Leak. President Bush, promising to run an ethical administration, promises the leaker will be fired. Result: We now know that it is Karl Rove. No firing forthcoming. We will hear from the special prosecutor on this one.
2001-2005: Cut funding every year for Louisiana flood control projects, as well as wetlands restoration. Result: You see it every day on TV.
With a dismal record of failure like this, I am thankful that the President (so far) has failed utterly in his attempt to 'fix' Social Security.