Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Case Against Bush on Katrina

While some conservatives have had enough of Bush, many right wing blogs, as expected, are already trying to revise the facts surrounding Katrina to deny any fault on Bush’s fault. With Bush’s approval ratings dropping into the 30’s, and even fewer approving of Bush’s response to Katrina, the usual right wing spin is not working. The Bush Administration is totally ineffective at governing, and has survived based upon finding enemies to attack. Unfortunately for Bush, it doesn’t work to say he will hunt down Katrina dead or alive, or that Mother Nature hates us for our freedom.

Lacking a clear enemy as with 9/11, the Bush Administration is trying to shift the blame to local officials. Maybe they also share some of the blame, but this does not exonerate Bush for his multiple failings. There are claims that Bush could not have offered assistance earlier as he was forced to wait until aide was requested, ignoring the complaints from local officials that their initial requests for assistance received an insufficient response. Ultimately, regardless of whether others share blame, the buck stops with the President.

We’ve already had multiple posts on the failings of the Bush Administration, and these have been discussed frequently even in the mainstream media which gave Bush a pass for his previous failings on 9/11 and (until recently) Iraq. With so many errors discussed, it might be helpful to quickly summarize the facts which demonstrate that the results would likely have been different under a more competent President:

As already mentioned, the Bush Administration failed to respond to initial requests for assistance from local officials.

Bush had reduced funding for flood relief by over 40%.

Bush appointed Republican political operatives to the top positions in FEMA who had no experience in disaster relief.

The National Guard’s response was limited by having many members bogged down in Iraq. The lack of necessary equipment remaining in the United States appears to have been an even more serious problem.

Condeleza Rice was on a shopping trip at the onset of the disaster, delaying coordination of supply offers from foreign countries. Even after her return, foreign countries continued to have difficulty getting supplies into the country, with many believing that the Bush Administration was reluctant to accept foreign assistance which might make them look weak.

Another accusation which still requires further investigation is that Bush delayed allowing some supplies into New Orleans on the day of his visit, in order to provide better photo ops of Bush pretending to be arriving to save the day. Such questions demonstrate why we need an independent investigation, and not one under Republican or White House control.

The Bush Administration’s denial of the problem of global warming may have also contributed to the problem. While global warming is unlikely to have been the cause of the hurricane, the warmer waters likely did increase its strength and may have increased the damage caused by Katrina. This is another issue which will require further study, but such study is made more difficult with an administration which has been hostile to science if scientists’ findings conflict with their political goals.

For more information, including references for the statements above, see the Hurricane Katrina category at The Democratic Daily or at the Kerry Reference Library.


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