01 September 2005

God is in His Heaven...

...well, in his White House, actually.

Listening to Dan Kaplis and Craig Silverman (KHOW-AM, Denver, Co. 31 August 2005) wondering whether or not the President dropped the ball on the hurricane. Apparently, there is something that the President needed to do, that he could not do while on "vacation". He just had to get back to the White House; or maybe he was supposed to go to New Orleans. (Who knows? Perhaps he could have stood in the Big Easy and said to the storm, "Peace! Be still!") Because, according to Silverman, his primary concern is the welfare and safety of the people. Wow. And what, pray tell, is the primary concern of, Oh, I don't know, a state governor, or a city mayor? I happen to believe that the President's primary concern is the welfare and safety of the union by executing the laws of the union (i.e., federal laws). The people live in states; the President should not have to worry about a single U.S. city--not even in a hurricane. And when and if states need federal aid they can just ask. We have a Federal Emergency Management Administration. Federal response should be already defined by law, needing nothing more then automatic execution. And if that is not the case, then it is a legislative problem. The President's personal involvement would only be eye-wash, and--if I were a state governor--offensive to the highest degree. The president is the commander-in-chief of our armed forces; he is not the Governor-in-Chief of each and every state!

According to Caplis: The president was two steps behind on two levels: (1) Verbal leadership, and (2) The actual supply of aid.

First, verbal leadership, as I've already mentioned, should have been wholly unnecessary. Louisiana has a governor. Was she providing no verbal leadeship? She wasn't on vacation, was she? I saw quite a bit of her on TV, so I am pretty certain she was providing at least verbal leadership. Mayor Nagin was pretty visible also.

With respect to the supply of aid. Caplis says it should have been in place ahead of time. It was too late, really, when the president finally got around to offering it. Let's say this is true. Why does all this have to await a personal order from the President? If the provision of federal aid must await a golden invitation from the President of the United States, does that not connote a weakness in our federal emergency management system?

Both Caplis and Silverman agreed in that one of the things for which Bush is blame-worthy is the amount of time he had to respond to this. He knew--as we all did--for days how bad this would be. He (personally, of course, because everyone is just waiting for him to tell them what to do) should have had everything in place ahead of time. George Bush--personally, like a micro-manager--should have seen to all of this. Well, if possessing prior knowledge is what makes one culpable for something then Caplis and Silverman should have a look at some internet resources which will give them a better idea of who should have responded and had everything in place ahead of time. They can start with this Wikipedia article; and they might find Jim Wilson's 2001 article, New Orleans is Sinking, (Popular Mechanics, 11 September 2001 [accessed 31 August 2005]), also enlightening. New Orleans has been sinking for more than just decades, including the years during which Bill Clinton was President. Could not Bill Clinton have done something about that? Why has no Louisiana governor or New Orleans mayor been on top of this? If Caplis and Silverman want to talk about who should have done what due to the amount of warning, they may very well do so. The list is long and distinguished; and it need not include the present executive office holder. Dropped the ball? Please.

And I am not saying all this just to defend Bush. His predecessor was all over the place in emergencies and I objected to his ubiquitousness for the same reasons. I found it offensive that he thought he needed to be some place where something bad had happened--as if no one can possibly have a clue what to do unless and until the President, God Manifest in the Flesh, shows up to direct them. Suddenly, by his mere physical presence, everything is all right.

One more thing. Caplis and Silverman made a bit of the fact that when the President was campaigning last, he went down to Florida after the devastation there. If he had been campaigning this year, he would surely have gone to Louisiana, they claim. Now, on this one I agree. However, I must sadly agree because the only reason anyone would have for visiting a disaster is really that people are superficial. Nothing about any disaster changes just because a president--or any politician campaigning for office--shows up. (I for one was not a bit impressed by his going to Florida.) And if you want to say that, yes, but his being there can be of comfort to people. I can only respond that there is only one person who can show up and give me comfort in a disaster area. And he has never sought my vote.


About Me

James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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