To Those Who Voted for Bush: Do You Get It Now?
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
Here's something I don't understand. The Golden Goose was about to lay another
9/11-type Golden Egg for Bush&Co. to pick up. And they didn't.
Surely, Karl Rove, who had seen Bush's approval ratings drop to all-time lows,
knew days ahead that a Category 5 Hurricane was bearing down on New Orleans and
a calamitous disaster was likely to unfold there if and when the levees were
unable to hold back the water. What better way to improve those ratings than for
Bush to be photographed the day after the disaster struck, standing on top of
debris, bullhorn in hand, vowing that the government would help Gulf Coast
states rebuild from the Katrina catastrophe?
But none of that happened. They bungled their own political resurrection! Nearly
a full week went by, while thousands were dying and starving or were kennelled
in unbelievable filth in New Orleans. Nobody seemed to be in charge. Bush
remained "on vacation" in Crawford, and traveled around to
fundraisers, played golf, etc.; Condi was theatergoing and buying
thousand-dollar shoes on Fifth Avene. What was going on? Did Karl Rove not
understand the significance of what was happening? Was
Bush...uh..."incapacitated"? What about Cheney, "on
vacation" in Wyoming; was he "incapacitated," too? Are the Bush
people really that politically obtuse?
So here's the question I have for those of you who voted for Bush in 2004: Do
you get it now?
BUSH GOES AWOL, AGAIN
For the past four years, progressives and moderate-conservatives have been
pointing out how incompetent this Administration is. Many Bush Republicans
accused us of making up such accusations for purely political reasons. Now you
yourself can see what we have seen: These guys are way over their heads and
haven't got a clue; they're constantly having to come back at a problem in hopes
of getting it right the second or third time around. Of course, that means
they're always playing catch-up, which means they're always too late. (Such as
this Alice-in-Wonderland comment by Bush a week after he went AWOL -- again --
when his country needed him: "In America, we do not abandon our fellow
citizens in their hour of need.")
Those at the royal Bush court lead such isolated, circumscribed lives that when
a disaster strikes, they are so far removed from the circumstances in which
regular people find themselves that they simply don't understand the magnitude
of what's happening out there in the real-world. You may remember that Bush's
first response to the Asian tsunami was silence, and then a grudging piddling
amount of aid offerred; it took the international community shaming him for his
unfeeling miserliness before his handlers began to change Bush's tune and he
finally pledged genuine aid commensurate with the enormity of the catastrophe.
Our earlier assessment of the Administration as bumblers was made mainly on the
disaster that Bush&Co. made, and are still making, in the Persian Gulf. But
now the whole world gets to see, up close and personal, the thorough botch they
made, and are still making, in the other Gulf, in New Orleans and environs.
THE IRAQ BOTCH
In Iraq, they launched a war based on lies and deceptions, and had no plan for
what should happen after the major military fighting ceased.
They turned away Iraqis from participating in the reconstruction of their own
society, preferring to award the multi-billion-dollar contracts to huge American
firms like Halliburton and Bechtel. They disbanded the Iraqi army, leaving
hundreds of thousands of young Iraqi men unemployed and angry. They insultingly
refused aid and advice from the United Nations and their former allies, wanting
nobody to interfere with their Occupation. They didn't have enough troops, and
the correct troops, in place to police the "post-war" phase. They
didn't guard the abandoned ammo dumps, and then were surprised when those
munitions were used to blow up U.S. soldiers.
They finally, a year or two late, realized that the U.S. was engaged in a
guerrilla-style war against nationalist insurgents, along with some foreign
jihadists, and started to change their military strategy. But it was too late,
and insufficient, to make much of a dent. Now the U.S. is involved in a
stalemated, Vietnam-like quagmire, and steady streams of flag-draped caskets
make their way back to the U.S., and thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqi
civilians continue dying as well.
And still Bush cannot bring himself to answer Cindy Sheehan's simple question:
"For what noble cause did my son have to die?"
ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL
Now in 2005, a natural disaster occurred that everyone predicted -- including
the government's own emergency-response specialists. Specifically, Homeland
Security Department chief Michael Chertoff and FEMA's head Michael Brown were
briefed on the consequences of the levees breaking days before Hurricane Katrina
hit New Orleans. But the Administration's response was non-existent. Or
completely beyond belief: Bush actually told Diane Sawyer "I don't think
anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." Read your experts' frickin
FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- which Bush turned into a
stripped-down, underfunded subgroup buried in the Homeland Security Department,
focusing on anti-terrorism measures rather than on emergency-management -- is
led by an bumbling political appointee, Brown, someone with no experience in
this field, and it showed; for example, neither he nor Chertoff were aware there
were thousands of refugees in the city's Convention Center until Day 5. We
ordinary citizens, paying attention to the news reports, knew that three days
before they did.
Brown was a buddy of one of Bush's Texas pals, with a history in show-horses.
That's the man in charge of FEMA. And, believe it or not, Bush the other day
thanked him publicly for doing such a "heck of a job." Oh, by the way,
guess which company has been awarded the contract for reconstructing New
Orleans? Yep, Cheney's Halliburton.
New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin hit the nail on the head about Bush's belated
promise to send 40,000 troops into his city. "Don't tell me 40,000 people
are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses
and do something."
Tens of thousands of New Orleans residents -- those mostly too poor to have been
able to evacuate the city -- were herded into mass structures like the Superdome
and Convention Center, locked inside, and then no government agency provided
food, water, medicine, sanitation care, removal of the dead, etc. Those who
wanted to leave those horrific shelters and cross over a bridge to dry land were
prohibited by armed troops from doing so.
Many of those residents complained that the thousands of citizens there were
treated worse than dogs in a kennel. It was a circle out of Dante's Inferno.
Indeed, so atrociously were the victims treated in those facilities that even
right-wing Fox News reporters Skip Shepard and Geraldo Rivera were appalled on
the air, just trying to get viewers to understand the enormity of the
hell-on-earth scenes they were witnessing. Rivera was crying and screaming to
"let these people walk out of here...just let them leave." (You've got
to see this powerful video ( www.crooksandliars.com/2005/09
/02.html ) of Shepard and Rivera live on air -- reality-TV at its best.)
DON'T BE POOR OR POOR-AND-BLACK
The fact that the great majority of those seeking refuge and rescue were
African-American, and that no help came in the first five or six days, spoke
volumes about the "compassionate conservatism" supposedly animating
Bush's administration. Try to imagine how fast the federal government would have
mobilized to reach an upper-class compound filled with thousands of well-do-do
white people, with access and influence. You get the picture.
Speaking of pictures, two comments:
1. Bush flew into New Orleans to have his picture taken for public-relations
purposes. At one location, he spoke at a "food-distribution" point,
which disappeared shortly after the photo-op. It was a set! Various other photo
ops likewise were organized that were equally as unreal. For more, see "The
Potemkin Photo Op" ( http://www.blah3.com/article
2. No doubt you've seen the way two virtually identical photos of hurricane
survivors were captioned in local newspapers. In one, a white man, up to his
chest in water, with some groceries in his hands: "...found food at a local
market." In another, same scenario, but a young black man: "...looted
food from a supermarket." Both were trying to survive and bring some form
of sustenance back to their children and families. One "found" food,
the other "looted" food.
Interestingly, when after Baghdad fell, we saw the video pictures of Iraqis
looting stores and museums and such, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said:
"Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit
crimes and do bad things". . . Looting, he added, was not uncommon for
countries that experience significant social upheaval. "Stuff
Now the governor of Louisiana is talking about "shoot-to-kill" orders
against those who, facing starvation from a non-caring government, are taking
food from abandoned, flooded-out grocery stores. And right-wing,
let-them-eat-cake pundits blame the mostly black, poverty-stricken residents for
"choosing" not to evacuate New Orleans, as if these cashless folks
should just have jumped in their non-existent cars or boats and headed out of
town. Of course, FEMA or the military could have supplied the buses and trucks
and trains to take out the trapped, but apparently there were no such
contingency plans and/or nobody with any brains was in charge to get the mass
A REVERSE-MIDAS TOUCH
But let's move on from America's perennial, always-just-below-the-surface racism
and hits-on-the-poor. The point here is that George W. Bush has a reverse Midas
touch. Whatever he involves himself in as a leader winds up in FUBAR land. (If
you don't know what those letters stand for, ask someone in the military: F-----
Up Beyond All Recognition.)
It happened with his botched oil-company ventures at Arbusto and Harken Energy
in Texas; it happened, and is happening in Iraq; and now it's happening with
regard to the Katrina disaster in Louisiana.
Except this time there's no wealthy family friend, or Saudi prince, or British
prime minister, to bail Bush out of his difficulties. He's out there all by his
lonesome, exposed for all the world to see as the emperor with no clothes, a
figurehead leader with no emotional or intellectual wherewithall to deal
efficiently and correctly with anything beyond the most simple scenarios.
Introduce complexity into the equation, and he's a deer in the highlights of
So...what to do? While Rove&Co. ratchet up the ol' spin machine -- and try
to find others to blame for their own gross delays and mistakes -- Bush's normal
allies are abandoning him, right and left and right. Business Week, Washington
Times, newspapers around the country, conservative pundits David Brooks ( www.crooksandliars.com/2005/09
/03.html ) and Newt Gingrich, retired military officers, and so on -- they
all can't believe the idiocy and deadly cluelessness of their GOP hero.
They all realize that this incompetent, way-over-his-head guy has three more
years on his contract, and he's likely to take down the economy, political
structure, and everything else with him as his administration self-destructs in
an unholy mess. In short, the Bush Administration is not good for business,
which CEOs and others are finally starting to realize.
LEAVE OR BE PUSHED
Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice and Chertoff and the others simply have
got to go, along with the other fools and criminals down there in his bunker.
Bush and Cheney either must be encouraged by GOP powerbrokers to resign, or they
must be impeached.
They each took a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution and all
American citizens. They have shredded the Constitution -- in the name of
"anti-terrorism," they have denuded the Bill of Rights -- and they
have clearly demonstrated that they are incapable of protecting the citizenry,
either in Iraq or here at home.Clear dereliction of duty.
Indeed, they have, for their own partisan purposes, revealed the identity of a
covert CIA agent -- a crime that according to President George H.W. Bush is
"traitorous"; indictments are expected shortly against key Bush
Administration officials involved in this case. In addition, the Administration
has "disappeared" American citizens into the military gulag, away from
contact with lawyers or their families. This is the behavior of dictators; when
it happens in African or Latin American countries, we are outraged. Folks, it's
happening right here.
You and I, no matter for whom we voted in 2004, need to stop these incompetent
fools from doing even more damage, and get this country back on its moral track,
run by leaders who have something else on their minds other than power-hunger
Bush and Cheney should resign voluntarily right now, in the best interests of
the country. If they don't choose to go, it's long past time for impeachment
hearings to begin and for local prosecutors and grand juries (perhaps in New
Orleans parishes) to start their own investigations and indictments, and not
depend solely on Congress for accountability-reckoning. That's the message that
needs to go out from all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to our legislators.
I can't express it any better than Aaron Broussard, the president of New
Orleans' Jefferson Parish. Here is what he had to say on Meet the Press. ( movies.crooksandliars.com/Meet
>>"We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will
go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast. But
the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments
of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. ? Whoever is at the top of
this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chainsawed off and we?ve got to
start with some new leadership. It?s not just Katrina that caused all these
deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater
New Orleans area and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now."
Bernard Weiner has authored more than 150 articles and essays about the Bush
Administration since 9/11/01. A Ph.D. in government & international
relations, he has taught at various colleges, was a writer/editor with the San
Francisco Chronicle for 19 years, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org)
.To comment, contact >>[email protected]
Originally published by Crisis Papers & DemocraticUnderground 9/6/05.
Copyright 2005 by Bernard Weiner