Since my initial two Katrina posts I have not posted anything, and that was because until I felt I had had a chance to assimilate all the information surrounding Katrina's aftermath, both on the ground and politically, I did not want to blog anything more about it here. There was more than sufficient excellent blogging being done by many others in both America and Canada, though I was paying more attention to American sources this time because of the nature of the event being studied. I will admit to doing some commenting here and there, mainly at Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog
, but that was mainly responding to what was posted and the reactions it was getting from the various conservative commentators there, as well as venting some of my own anger at the utter incompetence in the federal reaction for the first 72-96 hours of the disaster Katrina left in her wake. However, it has been far from my only source for reading, that would literally be a couple of hundred different sources and several dozen blogs on the left and right to see the various reactions and resources being provided by the bloggers and commentators to this disaster.
Out of all this an overall perception/realization of what I feel may be the most significant underlying aspect of the Bush Administration reactions to this from the outset to this day and likely well beyond occurs to me. Where is the acceptance of even the inevitable human error(s) that had to of occurred simply by virtue of the fact that we are all human beings, flawed and imperfect, and no matter how hard any of us try we all make mistakes even in serious matters like this one is? According to the tenets of Christianity true for every significant sect is that we are flawed, that we make mistakes, and that we fall down. That we need to face/confess these inevitable errors/failings, learn from them, ask forgiveness from those wronged/harmed and God, and work to preventing any such failing from happening again. In the secular world this is I believe known as the concept of perfectibility, or quality control management for the business types. That it is important to have in place systems and structures to compensate for inevitable failings and mistakes, identify those mistakes as soon as possible from their occurrence, and work to create means of reducing/preventing those mistakes from repeating themselves down the line. So no matter what perspective on looks it at from, it is fundamentally inherent to how we interact with our world that human beings make mistakes regardless of political and/or religious persuasion. Human beings make mistakes no matter who they are no matter how powerful they are no matter what their religious/political affiliations are. Yet we have not even seen this much acceptance from the Bush Administration for any of what went wrong in during that first 72-96 hours.
What that says about the mindset of the people that run the Bush Administration from the President on down is truly frightening. However, this disaster has also laid bare this frightening reality in a way for the average American that hasn't happened before, both at the conscious and subconscious/gut levels. There is also the fact that the notion of the perfect leader that is never wrong, never makes mistakes, and is the only choice to lead a nation smacks of imperialism/dictatorship/tyranny for most Americans, and now they are seeing it from their own President towards fellow American citizens caught in a major disaster. Now, while the vast majority on the left have felt this way for some time now about Bush and his Administration, the middle/independents have only more recently started to see him this way, and that I would trace back to the Schiavo affair as the beginnings of that loss, though an argument could be made for once the Iraqi WMD's were never found and Abu Ghraib. For Republicans though his support has stayed in the 90+% range post 9/11/01, though with Katrina that appears to be finally starting to slide
I suspect what may be fueling that drop is the lack of acceptance of any accountability for mistakes made by the feds and Bush, be they out of sincere attempts to do their job or from rank incompetence/corruption, despite there clearly having been so many mistakes made in the initial 72-96 hours shown live and continuously on the cable news nets and on the network news outlets as well. This strikes me then as a means by which to help more Americans to see that which has infuriated so many of the left/liberals in America as well as the rest of the world is not just the ideology and beliefs of this Administration and GOP, but the understanding of reality and the ability to competently execute said political aims. Not to mention managing a crisis scenario like Katrina presented with anything remotely resembling competence. It is bad enough to be governed by someone you disagree with politically, it is truly horrific/nightmarish when that person is as grossly incompetent in his execution of policy and crisis management as GWB has been. It is the incompetence that has truly infuriated so many, both within and without America, and finally this is being understood on the right in America a bit more thanks to one Bush comment above all the others on Friday Sept 2 2005. "Brownie. you're doing a heck of a job."
Praising the head of FEMA for a heck of a job while the TV is still showing scenes of utter horror in NO to every American watching and had been from the beginning. Remember, Sept 2 2005 was the day the desperation in NO was at its peak as seen on CNN and the other news nets.
The inability of the Bush Administration and especially George W Bush himself to acknowledge errors/mistakes made no matter what they are and how visible they are is one of if not the most dangerous aspects of this man and Presidency to me. It lays the foundations for so many of his other mistakes as well as allowing them to become greater in magnitude than they needed to be as well as making them easier to develop in the first place. If you cannot acknowledge that you have even made any mistake(s) let alone the specifics of that mistake(s) you cannot correct the mistake(s). At the most you can paper over the existence of the mistake(s), at least for a time, until something happens to expose that mistake beyond ability to hide. However, until that happens things only slowly and steadily get worse and worse. It undercuts/eats away from the inside any structure/procedure/protocol/policy from being competently executed because as professionals in any field can tell you, the need to understand, accept, and allow for the need to identify inevitable human error/mistakes is critical to the correction and reduction/elimination of that mistake ever being repeated again.
This used to be true even in American politics prior to this Administration taking office, even if such was rarely as public as it properly should have been. At least such acknowledgement could be seen in actions taken ostensibly for other reasons demonstrating the awareness of the mistake(s) and doing something to correct them, hopefully while it can still be some help to whatever issue/problem the mistake(s) were made in relation with. I have never seen an American Presidency though like this one in it's complete inability to even acknowledge let alone accept being responsible for any mistakes made anywhere, let alone mistakes serious enough to require the relieving/firing of someone from a post/position anywhere close to the mistake(s) that were made necessitating such action. Indeed, this resignation
of Brown from FEMA is the first example I can think of where a resignation was reasonably contemporaneous to the mistake(s) made, and soon enough that it may have an impact on the ongoing management of this disaster. This is in sharp contrast to say George Tent's resignation from the CIA after both the 9/11/01 and Iraq WMD scandals, although to be fair to him he was trying to get Bush's attention on terrorism, especially during the summer of 2001.
So in this we may finally be seeing the shattering of the popular myth/perception of GWB as a leader, strong in a crisis, and for that matter even as "just folks". This man and this Presidency scares me in ways no other President has ever since I was aware of Presidents and what they did at the tail end of Nixon's days. This fear is and never has been based primarily on political beliefs and such, but my sense of self preservation and the stability of the global society we all live in. I see this man as truly being one of if not the most dangerous person on Earth because of the power his office affords him and his utter incompetence for that office. I have never thought that about other Presidents of either parties, though I will say I did a bit during Reagan's last couple of years, he seemed rather out of touch and I wondered about his health. Prior to that though while I disagreed with him on many things I also knew he was competent to hold the job based on his lengthy history in politics of one form or another, both as governor and as SAG head. I also knew that his political beliefs were shaped by hard examination and consideration, thanks to all the columns and essays he had written prior to becoming President.
Bush though came to power in a judicial coup d'etat in 2000, and was reelected in a at best questionable 2004 election. I say that because one in four votes was unverifiable, there was a serious lack of transparency and resistance to outside observers monitoring the election integrity, and particularly the significant exit poll variation from the reported vote as well as the amazing statistical anomaly of that nearly all the errors discovered had favoured Bush. That last point indicates to me that this was not random/accidental but had intelligence behind it. I think the odds of such discrepancies almost always favouring the same candidate were something like 250 million to one from one of the detailed studies I had read about this. As for 2000, when the conservative justices, especially those that had been strong State rights supporters throughout their judicial history, reverse their beliefs to reverse a State Supreme Court to favour their politically preferable complainant, and then say this ruling is a one time only deal and that it cannot be used for precedent down the road, it is hard to see such as anything other than a judicial coup d'etat. Perhaps finally his incompetence and unsuitability to hold the Presidency have been made clear to enough of his prior supporters to limit any further harm he does to America and to the rest of the planet, and done so in a way that claiming it is all because the big bad "liberal media elites" are "lying" about Bush and the GOP will not work with any but the already blind faith followers that will stay with him because he is of the right political affiliation, and that is all that matter to them.
Whatever else these past two weeks have shown, they have shown that Bush and company cannot even accept accountability for mistakes made even when they were made for all of America to see as they were happening and the suffering and dying of American citizens because of it. Whatever the failings/mistakes of the local and State officials were, at least I have heard acknowledgement that they probably did make mistakes, even if they are not willing to be specific about what they were. From Bush and company I have heard no such thing at all, instead all I see are stories confirming the bubble
GWB lives in and how it prevented him from knowing anything about the disaster Katrina left and what was happening in New Orleans during those critical first 72-96 hours. What is worse for Bush, the mayor and Governor of Louisiana were on the job throughout this disaster, while he stayed on vacation for another couple of days from when Katrina made landfall. Yet it was the federal government that were the ones that were most needed to help/respond in the first 72-96 hours to a disaster of this magnitude, and from all accounts contemporaneously there was no clear chain of command in operation and that orders were not given from the top of the chain of command to activate and deploy resources ready, waiting, and eager to be used to aid their fellow Americans, from the military to police, firefighters to medical workers and drugs, food, and especially clean water (see here
). Yet it appears that the operation
(see last several paragraphs in story) to salvage Bush's image and poll numbers and redefine what happened to make Bush look better is well underway and of more concern to the Administration than preparing to cope with a cat 5 hurricane hitting NO was, whoch also speaks volumes as to the real priorities in this WH. If Bush and company cannot show that they realize serious mistakes were made for which they hold accountability by virtue of their offices and demonstrate real accountability, I think they will suffer greatly from it.
This time, unlike previous times, this happened to Americans, on American soil, was predicted well before it happened, and unfolded uncensored and unfiltered for many days before the Bush Administration even began paying attention to the media damage being done to them, let alone the damage done to those in the affected region itself. No, this time I think the inability to act like a human being/man in this case will haunt him, and will not just hurt the remainder of his Presidency but very possibly the GOP itself for years beyond this second term. This could well be for the GOP GWB's legacy what the Mulroney legacy was for the Progressive Conservative party in the 1993 elections, albeit with a few more elected representatives being left in power than was the case there. However Mulroney poisoned conservativism in Canada at the federal level for over a decade, and even now the effects of his tenure are felt in the political dynamics of Canadian politics. He really brought down the PCPC, and Bush is positioned to bring down the GOP with the way he has handled the Katrina aftermath. Iraq was bad enough, but Americans do not really see the reality there, whereas in NO and the Gulf Coast they have seen realities they never believed could be seen in America, and it did not sit well with Americans at all.
This event will have political repercussions like few things any of us have seen in our lifetimes. I suspect it may well end up defining political realities and philosophies for at least a generation from the tired stale debates between the left and right in America that have been ongoing for so long. Not to mention also confirming the dangers of having those that claim government is the enemy running the government which many from the left in America have been saying for years. It also makes the idea of "starving the beast" look a bit less like a good idea, and that also will hurt the GOP, especially if it is picked up and driven home by the left/Dems in America along with the other openings Bush and the GOP have left the Dems as noted here at PA
. We shall see.