Thursday, January 12, 2006

"It's a heck of a place to bring your family"

It may be hard for you to see, but from when I first came here to today, New Orleans is reminding me of the city I used to come to visit. It's a heck of a place to bring your family.

George W. Bush
New Orleans Metropolitan Convention Center And Visitors Bureau
January 12, 2006

President Bush's praise for the city sounded disturbingly like the praise he offered for his miserably failing FEMA director, Michael Brown. Does he just choose to wear blinders, or is he really such an imbecile?

Unfortunately, it wouldn't matter in either case, because President Bush never had a chance to see the real New Orleans. His motorcade sped him down the I-10 corridor from Louis Armstrong Airport to the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau on St. Charles Avenue -- hardly a route, or a destination, that would offer a vista of what 80 percent of New Orleans looks like. To arrive on St. Charles Avenue is to arrive on a relative island of paradise -- far, far away from the leveled homes in the Lower Ninth Ward; far, far away from the Lakeview homes with holes carved in them where torrents of water swept through; far, far away from the modest homes in the London Avenue Canal area, where what were once living rooms now host rolling sand dunes; far, far away from the miles and miles of homes still covered in mud and ringed with dirty water lines where four, six, eight, ten, twelve, fourteen feet of water stewed for weeks.

No, President Bush didn't do what would have been smart or compassionate. He could have shown that he truly is a compassionate leader by helping the members of a Lower Ninth Ward church throw moldy pews into the street, and helping to scrape the still-gooey two-inch-thick muck off of the floor. He could have visited my friend in the Broadmoor neighborhood who gutted her house but is thinking she may not rebuild because she doesn't feel her investment will be secure without Category 5 storm protection. He could have learned something by putting on a tyvek suit, rubber boots, and a respirator, to help a St. Bernard family sort through the mounds of moldy upturned furniture and mud to find the handful of salvageable material possessions that are of such sentimental value that they have to be saved no matter what condition they're in.

Clearly, President Bush missed his opportunity to prove himself the leader we were all hoping for. Four months have passed since President Bush declared that the great city of New Orleans would rise again. For four months, New Orleans families have been dragging all of their earthly possessions into a trash pile on the street -- all of their furnishings, all of the sentimental possessions that are acquired in a lifetime -- photo albums, report cards, childrens' art projects, some of the most collectible music and book collections in the world -- gutting their homes to the bones, and waiting. And they're the lucky ones -- the people who were able to return to work on their homes. But they, along with the other three-quarters of New Orleans 450,000 residents have been in a holding pattern, waiting to hear the words we all so desperately need to hear coming from the lips of our president -- a pledge of confidence, a pledge of a leader who, when words are spoken, those words become transformed into action.

Clearly, President Bush's lack of anything helpful to say will leave people like Shawn Holian disappointed:
"I've had it and everybody else has had it. Just do what you need to do, government, to build the levees, restore the coast, so we can get back on with our lives."

Holian says it is hard to believe so little has been accomplished in the fourth months since President Bush vowed to rebuild New Orleans.

What was the purpose of Bush's visit if not to offer renewed vigor and support for an ambitious plan to rebuild New Orleans? I don't think he spent more than two hours in New Orleans. What could he possibly have accomplished? My answer? He did it simply as a photo op for the rest of the country to see him as still doing something to help the Gulf Coast.

Here's the most recent example of a similarly meaningless gesture for the cameras. David Sanger of The New York Times described on Washington Week the scene last week, when President Bush invited former Secretaries of State to, presumably, consult them for advice on Iraq, or to perhaps explain a plan for winning the war in Iraq. Instead, after no more than about five or ten minutes with the group:
Madeleine Albright stood up, and at some point said to the president, "You know, with all of this energy going into Iraq, what about Iran, what about North Korea, what about China? What have you been doing lately in India?" ...

Just when the conversation looked like it may get going, he said, "How about a family picture?" and they walked over to the Oval Office and that's the photograph you saw. When they came back into the Roosevelt Room later, the president, the vice president and Secretary Rice, Secretary Rumsfeld had disappeared to other meetings.

As anyone could see who's followed George W. Bush for the entirety of his life, or for just the few years he's been in the White House, he's a man of no substance who's simply been managed well for the cameras (despite his natural tendency to blunder). Hurricane Katrina is no different -- once out of the cameras, there is no policy or plan other than handing out billions of dollars of taxpayer money to his cronies.

Please pardon me again for using vulgar language as I have resorted in some earlier posts. I simply can't resist expressing in the most vulgar terms my absolute contempt for a man who is so clearly such a complete asshole.

Instead of firmly pledging to build Category 5 storm protection, instead of promising to help people rebuild their flood-damaged homes, instead of supporting any plan that's out there to rebuild the city or coming up with an alternative plan, instead of swearing before the God that he proclaims to believe in that the city of New Orleans will never, ever flood again, instead of committing to a bold new future of land preservation and coastal restoration (does anyone remember when that was a conservative value?), instead, President Bush told New Orleans citizens (to quote his Vice President), "Go fuck yourselves!"

Indeed, what kind of a president who gave a damn would not answer the wishes of the dozens of Sacred Heart high school girls who turned out on Jackson Square to respectfully beg him to protect their homes and futures from certain devastation the next time a hurricane approaches New Orleans? What kind of person -- I ask -- other than a boneless monkeyshit-for-brains asshole would so callously ignore their pleas, and the pleas of hundreds of thousands of other good, caring, taxpaying American citizens?


At 1/12/2006 08:38:00 PM, Blogger Tim said...

You said it... and said it well.

At 1/13/2006 06:35:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Clio said...

I'm now officially considering Sacred Heart as a high school for my 8-year-old daughter.

At 1/13/2006 08:09:00 AM, Blogger Schroeder said...

I'll tell you what -- those teachers were pissed. As they were leaving, I approached two teachers to tell them that Bush was actually over at the Visitors' Bureau office. They said they didn't think they had time to go there, but then there was a look in their eyes of such mischief that I thought they might actually go over there and make a scene. Little would their effort have done, since I doubt ol' monkey boy spent more than ten minutes there.

At 1/13/2006 09:06:00 AM, Anonymous visualman said...

Great post.  BAGnewsNotes has some further analysis (Throw Me Something, Mister!) which takes apart the photos of Bush attending yesterday's business roundtable.  The fact that the newswires mostly circulated a picture of him "posed" with a cartoonish Carnival character serves him right.

At 5/05/2006 08:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you know that the racist bastard Democrats, the former slave owner party, didn't set this whole fucking thing up-putting the black community in harms' way, then making sure the levy's were made 'cheap' so that if something like a Katrina came in, it would kill as many as possible. Look at Nagin: Now he comes up with a plan to evaucate the hospitals, the elderly and those who can't afford a car. Local politicians had a helluva alot more to do with the devastation your'e now experioncing. For contrast, they're still rebuilding after the tsunami!


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