Six of One...
[Note: Tonight's ISB is going to be on the political side of things. I realize that this isn't really my idiom, so I very rarely stray into that area, but considering that I found Air America on the AM dial this morning and nobody came in babbling about X-Man to distract me from it, it's been on my mind. Feel free to skip this one, but please enjoy these awesome Sgt. Rock covers instead.]
My mother voted for George W. Bush in the 2004 election. I remind her of that simple fact every time I find out something like how John Ashcroft gave an interview in a magazine that sold pro-slavery t-shirts--yes, I said pro-slavery t-shirts--where he said they get a lot of things right, and she hates it. When I asked her why she did it if she doesn't want him to be the President, she told me that she just completely lost it in the voting booth, but that she thought he handled the aftermath of 9/11 well. At first, anyway.
I mention this because my mother's a shining example of someone who bought into the campaign hype about how George Bush was the right choice to lead us out of a devastating event. Which he clearly wasn't, as we can see in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And it's not just me saying this. I mean, the guy did publicly take responsibility for the federal government's abysmal response today.
The fact that he actually did come out and cop to screwing up is one of the reasons that I, unlike a lot of other folks who vehemently disagree with the current President's policies, don't actually hate the guy. He seems like a decent enough fellow to catch a movie with or shoot some pool, and I'm sure that he firmly believes he's doing what's right for the country; I just think he's phenomenally bad at his job.
He has, however, surrounded himself with people that I abhor. Between Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, and that wretched little halfwit Ashcroft, the Bush Administration is more like a rogues gallery than a group of people who should be in charge of the country. I mean, I'm not saying that Karl Rove is the devil, but I did hear that he can only cross running water if he's encased in a sarcophagus carved from the blackest wood on a moonless night. Just sayin'.
So despite his mea culpa, it's not just Bush himself that I blame for the monumental fuckup that was the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. But the interesting question for me is not how it happened, but rather why the leader of the most powerful country on the face of the earth allowed it to happen.
The way I see it, there's two options:
Option 1: Kanye West is right, and George Bush really doesn't care about black people. He simply did not care enough about the suffering of the poor and disenfranchised and was so annoyed at having his vacation cut short that he just said "the hell with it, Trent Lott can get a new house," and wrote the whole thing off as something that'd get Iraq off the news for a couple weeks.
It seems to be supported by the fact that he didn't really know too much about the hurricane until four days after it happened. To be fair, I was only dimly aware of it until they had CNN on at Blimpie during my lunch, but then again I'm not the fucking President of the United States. What really clinches this one for me is that the guy apparently found out by watching a DVD someone made of cable newscasts on his plane. Which means that not only did he not know the details, but a) he had to get them from CNN, and b) he couldn't actually watch it himself, he had to get someone to make him a mixtape of Natural Disaster Greatest Hits.
At the very least he comes off as apathetic, at most he comes off as downright evil and uncaring for the plight of people who are already disenfranchised by his policies. Throw in the fact that there are asshole conservative Christians--Bush's core demographic--claiming that God smote New Orleans with his mighty wrath for being a sinful den of hedonism, and there's a lot going for the theory that these guys are just dicks.
Option 2: On the other hand, maybe noted conservative and gameshow host Ben Stein is right, and Bush did everything he could in the face of unbelievable destruction that no one could've predicted.
... Which would mean that he completely failed in his campaign promises to protect us from unbelievable destruction that no one can predict, like the kind we had, oh, about four years ago now. If this is the best that the government can do for its people, if this is the best effort that a concerned and motivated president can bring to his people, then he is truly inept at dealing with a crisis.
Admittedly, there were failures beyond those of the Bush administration, on both the local and state level, but when there's a disaster that affects multiple states, then it really ought to become the province of some sort of agency designed to manage emergencies on a federal level.
Fortunately, we have such an organization. Unfortunately, the guy in charge was a friend of Bush's whose last job was supervising horse-show judges, which is a little different than supervising a massive rescue organization in the face of destruction on a biblical scale. The fact that FEMA is now under the direct control of the Department of Homeland Security, would be cynically ironic if it wasn't so terrifying.
To be fair, from all reports, the Coast Guard did an exemplary job.
So those are the two options on why this happened. So which one is it, guys? Evil or inept? Assholes or Idiots?
Hang on... I just found out that Mom also voted for Nixon in '72. Jesus, Mom. Just... Jesus.