Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Accountability and Leadership

Who won't Bush fire over the Katrina disaster? Just as in Iraq, the problems go right to the top. They belong at the feet of a man whose lack of interest in the nuts and bolts duties of his job should be apparent to us all by now. Who is the leader responsible for all of this?

For four years the Bush Administration has been talking about preparing for a terrorist nuclear or chemical attack on an American city. Billions of dollars have been diverted for security projects in venerable places like
Wyoming. At the same time the organizations responsible for coping with a disaster should it occur have been routinely short-changed or eliminated from the Homeland Security budget. Who is the leader responsible for protecting Americans?

Money needed to rebuild and upgrade levees in
Louisiana was diverted to Iraq and then wasted on no-bid contracts with Halliburton. National Guard troops desperately needed to help in Gulf Coast states are patrolling the streets of Baghdad, because there is no one else to do the job. Who is the leader responsible for this?

Over at K/O, Kid Oakland lays the cards on the table.

“…if, as initial reports have it, FEMA has been weakened and rolled into Homeland Security...we need to demand accountability. FEMA is a good program. It works. The citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi need FEMA right now, and will need the kind of support FEMA provides in the weeks and months to come. If it's been rolled into Homeland Security....then exactly WHO is the point person here? Where is the aid coming from? The response at this point seems to be ad they're making it up as they go.

We've suffered a major natural disaster. Who is the point person for our federal government? What were the contingency plans? As far as I know, aside from the President's statement, given at a press meetup on
Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld is the only figure to have spoken out. Why is that? Who is the leader here?”

Who is the leader here? It is a simple question. This disaster unfolded over a period of days. The potential magnitude of the disaster was understood as soon as Katrina cleared the Florida coast and began sucking energy from the warm gulf waters. While all this was happening, Bush vacationed and when he got tired of fishin', nappin', bikin', spittin' and brush clearin', he jumped on Air Force One and flew off to do some politicin' the friendly confines of Arizona and Coronado.

As AmericaBlog points out, newspapers are already asking why was the President sticking with his schedule, including yesterday's return to Crawford, instead of getting involved with saving lives and putting the U.S economy right.

The Arizona Republic questions Bush's decision to drop in on a retirement community on Monday, instead of getting involved with his job.

"In a way, the president of the United States is the eye of a constantly circulating political hurricane. Ordinarily, the fact that he made landfall in Arizona would be big news. The fact that there were war protesters outside the president's appearance might have meant something, too, were it not for the fact that an actual hurricane struck on the same day.

Bush could have pointed this out. He could have skipped Arizona for Washington, D.C. He could have said that war, immigration, Social Security, Medicare and the rest are important, but for this day let's put them aside, along with the rest of our personal and political special interests, and concentrate on the folks in the path of the storm."

Instead of leading by example and heading back to the office to roll up his sleeves and save some lives, Bush continued on with his West Coast swing. He had an important message to deliver about prescription medication, immigration and the end of World War II.

Who is the leader here? Where is he hiding? Why is he hiding?