This post started as a comment to a friend's LiveJournal. I decided it would work here as well.
Everyone in power is currently saying "Don't play the blame game. Now isn't the time. We need to focus right now on helping these people." The opposite viewpoint has been, "Look, if not now, when? This did not have to be as bad as it was and we need some answers why our governments (local/state/federal) fucked up so badly."
See, those of us who remember 9/11 clearly without all of the crap that was piled on afterwards remember a president who didn't know what the hell to do and spent the day flying around in Air Force One, a Vice-President who was taken away to a "secret" location. A few weeks afterwards he was suddenly the Great White Cowboy Hero whose "resolve" and "swift action" were commended round the world. WTF??
Now I agree that sitting around and asking "Why, why, why did this catastrophic hurricane hit us?" seems counter-productive, especially when you have these folks in the mix:
Abortion, gays and voodoo actually to blame.
But, I do think some very serious questions need to be addressed. For example:
- Would the levee repair that was sacked thanks to the war in Iraq have changed anything? (I'm not naive enough to think that there would not have been devastation with a category 4 hurricane with a category 5 storm surge pounding the gulf coast - but was the infrastructure gutted to the point that a category 3 storm would have taken the town out?)
- Why weren't appropriate arrangements made for the poor and infirmed to get out of NOLA and similar places prior to the storm? Ray Nagin, the Republicrat Mayor of NOLA knew that he had numerous ultra-poor in his city who would have no means of evacuation. (In fact, prior to this storm, those families were being told if a big storm came, they were on their own.)
- Where the hell was FEMA? Read the governor's request for federal assistance prior to the storm here. (It's a pdf so it loads slowly.) The response of the "you have to vote for us, the other guy is going to let you DIE" Bush government was and is sickening. The death toll, when all is said and done, is going to be staggering. How many drowned awaiting rescue? Whether you believe that the response was intentional (either out of racism, classism, victim blaming or party philosophy) or unintentional (flat out incompetence) or a little of both there's no reasonable explanation for allowing people to die like that.
- Could the administration appear any more callous and uncaring? After two days, Bush reluctantly cancels the last few days of his five week vacation to go see (from a plane) what was happening. Guess he couldn't just phone it in at that point and look like he gave a shit. Cheney didn't bother to cancel his vacation at all and is just now returning to work. Condi Rice was on vacation and finally, after people booed her at a play and yelled at her in a shoe shop, returned reluctantly to D.C. (Hey, in this age of technology you don't have to cancel your tennis game to actually help work on the death of thousands of your own citizens in their own homes. You can just do a web conference!!) This is the government that was going to keep us safe, folks. To me, this is why the whole "can't play the blame game now - we've got important work to do!" doesn't ring true. It didn't interrupt Cheney's fishing trip. It didn't keep Dr. Rice from shopping.
Now is the time to ask these questions, before the nation's memory moves onto something else - before the spin on all of this is SO thick it begins to look like GWB and his cronies held back the tide themselves to keep the death toll from climbing higher. Because like it or not, our administration is all about image. Do you think it's any mistake that when asked, George W. Bush could not come up with a single mistake he felt his administration had made since 9/11?
How many "Get Out Of Jail Free" cards does this administration get before someone calls BULLSHIT!