A Year After Katrina

The New York Times has a good piece on the damage that Katrina did to George Bush’s carefully stage-managed post-9/11 image of the strong, resolute war preznit.

Katrina gave even those who were supportive of the president and thought he could do no wrong a much-needed dose of reality: with the horribly bungled response to Katrina, they had to admit that there is no there in this presidency. There was a veneer of resolute strength that was blown away for good by Katrina. Sure, we got glimpses from time to time of the man behind the curtain, such as with his bizarre performance during the debates with John Kerry, when he angrily told nobody in particular to let him finish and had some weird lump on his back that apparently held a transmitter of some kind. But that wasn’t enough. We were at war. You don’t change horses mid-stream, and all that.

But Katrina exposed just how unprepared the government was to respond to large-scale disaster. If the federal government can’t get buses to the Superdome, the thinking went, how can they protect us from terrorists?

Now, I personally think that the threat from terrorists has been vastly overstated — and I say this as someone who lives in New York and went through 9/11. No terrorist operation can cause the kind of destruction and disruption and loss of life that a large-scale natural disaster can. And has. But the Administration so hyped the threat from terrorists and so broadened the term so that anything and everything could be tied into terrorism somehow that the threat from natural disasters seemed, somehow, less terrifying than some rich guy getting dialysis in a cave in Pakistan.

And then we had Katrina, and the country had to acknowledge that the federal government fucked up. And if they fucked this up, there’s no way they can be trusted to keep us safe from terrorists. And if they can’t keep us safe from terrorists, then what in the blue blazes are we doing in Iraq, creating MORE terrorists?

And suddenly, Bush wasn’t such a popular president anymore. People forget that he wasn’t very popular at all on Sept. 10, 2001, and it was only because he said some things on a rubble pile and then clamped down on the press, calling anyone disloyal or unpatriotic who disagreed with him or questioned him, that he remained as popular as he did for so long.

And now, a year later, Bush plans to go to New Orleans to commemorate the anniversary of the storm that did in his popularity and exposed just how little substance there is in his Administration. He will probably not allow himself to be photographed where there are still piles of debris or unstable levees or wrecked houses. But the images of all those things, and the reality of the region, which is nervously eyeing Hurricane Ernesto as it moves into the Gulf, will haunt him nonetheless.

Heckuva job, Bushie.


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9 comments for “A Year After Katrina

  1. Dianne
    August 28, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    I can not by any contortion of my mind figure out why Bush was so popular right after 9/11/01. Where was he that day? Hiding in a hole. He wasn’t at the WTC with Gulliani and every rescue worker in NYC. He wasn’t at Bellevue Hospital waiting to try to help survivors or offering to donate blood. No, he hid until the danger was over then he came and made some little speeches at the site of the WTC, using it as another excuse to attack a country that had no involvement in the attacks, and pissing on the memory of those who died–and the honor of those who survived and those who tried to help the victims. I never thought less of the man than I did on 9/12/01.

    As a semi-aside, ever notice that any time the issue of terrorism comes up, the Republicans get more popular? It doesn’t matter how the issue comes up: fail to prevent an attack (a la 9/11, the London subway bombings, and the anthrax letters)–up in the polls. Prevent an attack or claim to (a la the recent liquids on planes scare)–up in the polls. If the republicans are losing the 2008 election and there’s a terrorist attack, I’d consider conspiracy theories about it much more seriously than I normally would.

  2. kate
    August 28, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    When I saw the news that day of the bombing I always pondered the possibility of a conspiracy. Its just too damn easy.

    Bush is and always has been a puppet, driven by those unelected actors behind the scenes who’ve been waiting to get their hands on the wheel for years.

    Katrina blew into the theatre of the ‘Let’s Play Whitehouse’ marionette show. Dumb, wooden and without his own mind, our hapless leader was left to dangle precariously, hung by props of a one-act play that didn’t fit the scene.

  3. August 29, 2006 at 2:34 am

    I will admit that I am a conspiracy theorist.

    I believe that there were explosives in the twin towers, and that explosives led to the collapse of building 7.

    I keep these beliefs to myself, for the most part. When I express these beliefs, I tend to get attacked from the left AND right. And most of the people who criticize my theories just don’t have the facts. They just say something about “wacko conspiracy theorists” and leave it at that. They don’t bother to look at history, or even contemporary political thought, for evidence that people might find attacking their own nation justifiable. I think about the Reichstag fire, about Pearl Harbor, and just have to think…

    Just wait for the next terrorist attack and the subsequent martial law. I hope I’ve acquired enough in savings to leave the US before then.

  4. Carty
    August 29, 2006 at 7:42 am

    Nice piece.

    Countering fear mongering requires that people demonstrate courage. Fear is insidious because it is much easier to lead people to be afraid than to lead them to be courageous (as John Kerry discovered).

    The good news is that courageous people can accomplish a lot. With the right leaders in 2004 and 2006 this could be the beginning of an exciting time for progressives. Ironically we’ll have King George’s startling incompetence, in part, to thank for that.

  5. August 29, 2006 at 1:15 pm

    For many Americans Katrina is already long gone, although we’re just paying lip service to the anniversary now. It seems to be a national habit to forget the past and move on. History may not let us off that easily, however. “What’s past is prologue,” wrote Shakespeare, a man who knew a thing or two about callous, uncaring leaders.

    Looking back a year later at “Bush on a Plane” : A flyover president and his broken promises. It’s frightening that this guy has more than two years left in office, two more years to fly from here to there, posturing to his heart’s content, while the country goes to hell.

  6. farang
    September 2, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    Robyn,

    Hold your head up proudly.

    NO ONE can dispute that BILLIONS were made “shorting” United, American, and Marsh Associates stock, way, WAY above normal levels (like 1000% more) the week leading up to 9/11/01. Just google it and see the FBI agents statements that investigated it.

    OF COURSE explosives were used to bring down the three buildings.

    All one has to do is THINK: HOW can a gravity collapse (Government official theory, Jet fuel melted support steel, blah blah blah, causing a pancake collapse, blah blah blah) cause I-Beams weighing more than school buses to be EJECTED 600 feet from the towers, in a video observed arc?

    Answer: CAN NOT.

    Good on ya for being honest with yourself.

  7. farang
    September 2, 2006 at 9:44 pm

    I hasten to add: This in no way means that Jet planes weren’t flown into the Towers. Or that SOMEONE ( recall, 7 of the so-called hijackers are still alive) flew or directed the planes into the Towers. Just that it isn’t possible that caused the explosive events recorded on video and audio, and seismic media.

    It’s just a distraction allowed by those that placed the explosives in the weeks and months prior to the well known plan to attack the US (PDB, remember?).

    Obviously.

  8. zuzu
    September 2, 2006 at 9:47 pm

    Oh, god, a conspiracy theorist.

    Yeah, no fucking way a jet plane full of fuel could have exploded or anything. Or the fuel tanks in the city command bunker in WTC 7 could have caught fire or nothin’.

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