Guest Column: President's response to Hurricane Katrina makes us look like fools

Dear Americans and Rockford Republicans:

I ain’t the smartest whitecap on the sea of humanity, but even I know the government officials’ disaster response should make us all angry. And yes, there has to be more than a Republican response. There has to be a Republican “blame game,” because if the quagmire in Iraq were not enough, American lives were once again put in dangerous peril by incompetent men.

President George W. Bush, what if we were hit in a major city by a nuclear device?

Thank heaven for the brave journalists who immediately went into the hurricane-ravaged areas and began to expose and relay to the American people the massive destruction on our southern Gulf Coast. Our government should have been taking lessons from these heroic and brave individuals. For sure, they braved the alleged gunfire as Southerners shot wild snakes and other animals that were flooded out and roaming everywhere. They made sure America understood the depth of despair and breadth of human beings in desperate need.

Unfortunately, the men in command—whose presidential and cabinet titles would indicate they have some sort of special wisdom—must not have watched the television, listened to car radios, read a Web site or picked up a newspaper to realize they had a major aftermath catastrophe on their hands.

How can Bush, the President of the United States, and his assorted departmental philosophers, be so cold and heartless? Since Aug. 29, these Americans in high places have known New Orleans and the hundreds of decimated square miles around it were a disaster. One needed only to watch five minutes of television to understand.

How is it that these men can stand in front of microphones as late as Sept. 2 and stupidly still profess their conjured amazement? How can they now say these poor people ignored the evacuation warnings when most had no way of getting out of there? Where would they have stayed? At places like the Crystal City in Washington, D.C.? Most can’t afford a pop, let alone gas and a stay at a motel in Louisiana. You had, Mr. President, at your disposal taxis, county dump trucks, city buses, empty school buses and cars that could have car-pooled out of that city.

What is wrong with George W. Bush attempting to tell a lie that “many relief agencies waited until the hurricane had passed to start sending supplies” is that it passed very quickly, sir, and what was left were very scared HUMAN BEINGS—in wheel chairs and with babies and children.

We knew you lied in Iraq about weapons of mass destruction, and we wondered when you would lie again. And you know what? You did just that Friday morning, Sept. 2.

“Didn’t know it was that bad,” Bush said. “If it’s not working right, we’ll make it right.” That’s what he said. NOT RIGHT? Dear heavens above, Mr. President, were you deaf, dumb and blind? How could you not know? Someone ought to send this Texas bubba a television, or at least teach him how to get off vacation and check in with the magicians surrounding him.

I can’t help but wonder if Bush is all right. Especially when he said, “If I could help those people by snappin‘ my fingers, don’t you think I’d be snappin‘?” A finger snappin‘ president—can you believe that? What a comeback from a man in charge of our nation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Yes, I am angry. Very angry, as a matter of fact. As I watched this tragedy unfold, I saw firsthand the failure of all levels of our leadership—local, state and, especially, federal. And we’ve got to “blame game” you, Mr. President. (Republicans have to play “blame game” to avoid a landslide for Hillary Clinton.)

This debacle should make everyone angry, because, at best, it is not only a national embarrassment, it is a world embarrassment. We have combat soldiers in the field in Iraq, and, if you cannot see the future and prepare for people’s safety, buddy, you’re not fit to lead.

At worst, this is just a blatant, cavalier dismissal of the fact that these were human beings on the ground in that muggy heat. If the ground is as contaminated as you now say, then you left them in that rot to suffer.

George W. Bush, hear this: Your response from the first day was despicable, and your total disconnect from what was happening right underneath your nose is a disgrace to your job, title, and position. You, sir, are incompetent, and surely should never be trusted again. And this demonstrates that your cabinet is equally incompetent, and that FEMA is controlled totally by you. Are you becoming a dictator, Mr. Bush, because you sure are starting to look like one?

Tell us, Mr. President, how is it the same people who can mount an invasion of Iraq out in the ancient plain of Shinar overnight, now cannot drop food, water and survival packets over New Orleans in less than a week? And why, now, would you attempt to smear those state officials knowing full well their S.O.S. was transmitted over national TV for three days straight?

Come on, Mr. President, if that is what you are trying to tell the American people now in the aftermath, it makes you and us look like fools in the eyes of the world.

Daniel Sutherland is a Rockford resident.

From the Sept. 14-20, 2005, issue

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