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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Waiting on a leader

This is just crazy!

New Orleans is now in chaos with people trying to shoot down helicopters, widespread looting and civil unrest, and with thousands of refgees looking begging for help, one has to ask, where is the leadership from President Bush?

Where now on day 5 of this national disaster and things that should of happened on day one are still not done. While President Bush was accepting a guitar on Tuesday, hundreds of people in the South were probably dying and could of been saved if the government acted in time. Now, the President's actions are too little too late with New Orleans falling into complete chaos.

When the President finally got around to addressing the nation, instead of giving a speech in which he could of shown some feeling for the people suffering (like his speech after 9/11) he simply gives a brief list of things the government is doing for the people in New Orleans, makes a brief remark on how people can help, and smiled for the camera.

Slowly, people are looking back and are now asking where was the President's leadership, why was he on vacation while the storm ripped apart the south, and why is there an apparent lack of coordination happening right now when tens of thousands of people desperately need help. The Presdient and government officals knew that this hurricane was a category 5 storm and was going to strike New Orleans a week ago (in fact, if you go back, you'll see that the forecasters predicted that the damage would be worse).

Newspapers around the world are ripping President Bush on his lack of planning for this emergency and here's todays editorial from the New York Times

George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.

We will, of course, endure, and the city of New Orleans must come back. But looking at the pictures on television yesterday of a place abandoned to the forces of flood, fire and looting, it was hard not to wonder exactly how that is going to come to pass. Right now, hundreds of thousands of American refugees need our national concern and care. Thousands of people still need to be rescued from imminent peril. Public health threats must be controlled in New Orleans and throughout southern Mississippi. Drivers must be given confidence that gasoline will be available, and profiteering must be brought under control at a moment when television has been showing long lines at some pumps and spot prices approaching $4 a gallon have been reported.

Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.

While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?

It would be some comfort to think that, as Mr. Bush cheerily announced, America "will be a stronger place" for enduring this crisis. Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal.