Tuesday, September 06, 2005


President Bush did make some mistakes last week

This blog has criticized the local officials of New Orleans and Louisiana's governors office, and with good reason, for the poor job they did in protecting its poorest and most vulnerable citizens from Hurricane Katrina. However, it is only fair to examine where President Bush could have done a better job in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when the city of New Orleans became flooded.

President Bush's own missteps were what started to invite criticism. The problem was that when the flood waters began rising in New Orleans and the huge number of stranded residents became apparent, his initial words and actions didn't match what people were seeing on television.

Last week, I couldn't believe what I was seeing as a city was disappearing under murky muck. Then I was shocked as I saw that many people were left behind by their own local officials. However, when I saw President Bush speak for the first time about the unfolding tragedy his words did not echo what I was thinking and feeling at the time.

My reaction to President Bush's inital remarks on Hurricane Katrina's wrath was, "uh oh. Does this man get it?". It's not that he said anything offensive, it's not that he was ignorant of the situation. It was that he didn't say enough. He should have told Americans that what we all saw was abysmal, that he couldn't believe local officials couldn't get a handle on things. He also should have said he would begin to take immediate action and see what he can do to spur Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin to actually do something.

I believe President Bush is a compassionate man concerned about all Americans. I also believe that he did everything in his power, behind the scenes, to make sure that hurricane victims were getting the help they needed. But, his poor extemporaneous speaking style, his sly smirks, and even his poor posture gave his critics the ammunition to say that this president isn't as concerned as the rest of us when tragedy strikes. He does give great prepared speeches, contrast last week's poor performance with his masterful "We will not fail" speech to Congress on September 20, 2001. But, when President Bush speaks off the cuff he has to do a better job.

The fact is that, last week, President Bush didn't inspire confidence in Americans concerning his leadership. He didn't create a lasting impression that someone was in charge when everyone in America knew there was a power vacuum in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Unlike many left-wing blogs who will only shout that Bush wanted to see poor people wither and die, I believe that all public officials must be intensely scrutinized. President Bush and federal government officials were forced to play catch-up because of a collapse of local leadership in Louisiana. However, President Bush should have done a better job of informing Americans that he shared their shock at what was happening in New Orleans and he was going to do something, anything, to help the afflicted.



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