If any country has the capability to respond to a large natural disaster, it is the United States.
For the past year, the US has utterly and completely failed.
Even the President sort of admits it. But not really.
Today, the President at least did not say things have gone "swimmingly."
But the President gave no assurance nor credible evidence of how he intends to fix what he and everyone in the long chain of authority have done wrong during the past 12 months.
No firings. No re-organizations. No shake-ups. No new leaders. No new faces. No anger.
The President of the United States stood in New Orleans today, 8/29, and admitted his "team" screwed up horribly.
Then he announced his same "team" would be in charge of fixing their own fuck-ups.
But this time they would do it "right."
The President's quoted statements from 8/29/06 are baffling and sad.
"The rebuilding is just beginning," he said. One year later. Isn't this what you are supposed to say one day later? One week later? One month later?
"It will take a long time," he said. One year later. Isn't this what you are supposed to say one day later? One week later? One month later?
"If there is another natural disaster, we'll respond in better fashion," he said. How does this help the 1,800 people who are dead? Many of whom would be alive now if the President and his team and responded last year "in better fashion"?
How does this help the approx. 200,000 people who cannot move back to their homes in New Orleans because their homes are destroyed or still uninhabitable?
On 8/29/06, Mr. Bush read from a prepared statement, written by a staffer, which told New Orleans residents what they already knew:
"Unfortunately, the hurricane also brought terrible scenes we never thought we'd see in America," Bush said. "Citizens drowned in their attics. Desperate mothers crying out on national TV for food and water. A breakdown of law and order and a government, at all levels, that fell short of its responsibilities. When the rain stopped ... our television screens showed faces worn down by poverty and despair. And for most of you, the storms were only the beginning of our difficulties."
Note the repeated reference to viewing the "terrible scenes" through a television screen. It's as if the President is describing a TV series he watched that didn't have a happy ending so he changed the channel. The last line of his statement is oddly truthful: "And for most of you, the storms were only the beginning of our difficulties." And whose fault is that?
Note the odd juxtaposition of personal pronouns ... "And for most of you, the storms were only the beginning of OUR difficulties." A Freudian slip? Wouldn't a more logical and parallel construction read: "And for most of you, the storms were only the beginning of your difficulties."
And why qualify this statement by saying, "And for most of you ..." ?
Haven't all of the people of New Orleans suffered to some extent over the past year?
This President has called himself a "uniter" and "the decider." Why during the past year has he neither "united" or "decided" regarding this mess that used to be a city called New Orleans, Louisiana?
He apparently has "decided" that his team screwed up. Why are they still working for him? Where is his specially commissioned report detailing exactly what was done wrong, who did it, and how it is being fixed? Where is the decider?
The complete failure of the President's team during the past year has resulted in the most racially divisive tragedy in US history since the 1964 Watts riots. Where is the uniter?
There are still dead bodies being found in New Orleans. Year old, massively decayed corpses. Why? There is still no official body count. Why? A President who calls himself the "decider" should be firing anyone and everyone who is unable to answer these simple questions.
It is good this President calls himself a "uniter." But calling yourself a uniter requires being one. Without that, the President is reduced to a personage like Bob Dole referring to himself in the third person. Uniting in this case means trying to repair the horrible open breach which has occurred between Black and non-Black Americans because of the failure of the President's team in New Orleans. The levees of New Orleans were not the only thing that breached August 29, 2005. What was breached was a compact between the United States, its President and Black American citizens of the United States in which Black American citizens are guaranteed full and equal protection and consideration under the laws of the United States regardless of previous laws, standards or customs. That compact was breached on August 29, 2005 and has still not been plugged.
The President could have prevented the breach from happening. He did not. He has now had a year to repair that breach. He has not. He had the chance to do it again on 8/29/06. He did not. A uniter would. A decider would.