September 05, 2005

This Turd Won't Blossom

Boy, was I wrong! When I wrote this piece on August 29, I assumed, wrongly, that Bush and Rove would take huge advantage of the hurricane as a convenient little diversion from other less heroic issues like the failures in Iraq and the Bush social security privatization fiasco. Bush's nickname for Karl Rove is "Turd Blossom." Presumably, Bush thinks that Rove can make even a turd blossom, even though this Rove nickname might not reflect well on George Bush himself. Regardless of this Rove reputation, in the case of Katrina, Rove has failed Bush utterly and the turds remain, simply, turds.

In a stunning and revealing article about the American press response to Katrina and the aftermath of failures, the BBC explains to the people of the world how the reality that is Bush's Katrina-gate is giving spine to American journalists where there was none before.

The depth of the problems for Bush and the Republican Congress is impossible to gauge at this point, but it very well could prove fatal in 2006. It certainly ought to prove fatal, given the magnitude of this failure.

If generals like Mike Chertoff (DHS) and Mike Brown (FEMA) were responsible for similar failures on the battlefield, any commander-in-chief worth his salt would have fired them on the spot. That these two buffoons continue to be in charge is a national disgrace.

To understand the dullness of Bush's response to this disaster, listen to his clumsy and artless words, spoken during his first visit to the Gulf region:

"This is a storm that's going to require immediate action now." (finally, four days after the storm passed)

"I know the people of this part of the world are suffering, and I want them to know that there's a flow of progress." (yeah, but where's the food and water?)

"I want you to know that I'm not going to forget what I've seen. (no kidding?)

"I understand the devastation requires more than one day's attention." (was this necessary for him to say? or maybe it was, because many people really aren't sure )

"It's going to require the attention of this country for a long period of time. ... And therefore, there will be a national response." (well, that's a surprise because alot of people thought Bush was going to leave it up to Haley Barbour to do the rescues and clean-up)

"And I look forward to continuing to work with the governor and the mayor and the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to do our duty to help the good folks of this part of the world get back on their feet." (to do our duty to help the good folks of this part of the world? who talks like that?)

"Here's what I believe. I believe that the great city of New Orleans will rise again and be a greater city of New Orleans. (Applause.) I believe the town where I used to come from, Houston, Texas, to enjoy myself -- occasionally too much -- (laughter) -- will be that very same town, that it will be a better place to come to. That's what I believe. I believe the great state of Louisiana will get its feet back and become a vital contributor to the country. (I am surprised he didn't say vital contributor to the Republican Party. And does he really think the victims think it is funny that little Georgie Bush used come to New Orleans to get drunk?)

And if Bush says "the good folks" one more time, I am going to be forced to jab knitting needles into my ears.

The rest of the world is appalled. Here is a sampling of response:

Mexico's El Universal
The slowness with which the USA's federal emergency services have joined the rescue operation has already generated great political tension... There is no doubt that the lack of well-timed responses to assist the population will have political costs for President Bush's Republican Party in the next federal elections.

Argentina's Clarin
Katrina had more than the power of the wind and water, because, now, when they have subsided, it can still reveal the emptiness of an era, one that is represented by President George W Bush more than anyone.

Spain's El Pais
Up until Monday, Bush was the president of the war in Iraq and 9/11. Today there are few doubts that he will also pass into history as the president who didn't know how to prevent the destruction of New Orleans and who abandoned its inhabitants to their fate for days. And the worst is yet to come.

Spain's La Razon
Proving that even the gods are mortal, it is clear that the USA's international image is being damaged in a way that it has never known before. The country will probably be able to recuperate from the destruction, but its pride has already been profoundly wounded.

France's Liberation
Bush had already been slow to react when the World Trade Center collapsed. Four years later, he was no quicker to get the measure of Katrina - a cruel lack of leadership at a time when this second major shock for 21st century America is adding to the crisis of confidence for the world's leading power and to international disorder. As happened with 9/11, the country is displaying its vulnerability to the eyes of the world.

France's Le Progres
Katrina has shown that the emperor has no clothes. The world's superpower is powerless when confronted with nature's fury.

Switzerland's Le Temps
The sea walls would not have burst in New Orleans if the funds meant for strengthening them had not been cut to help the war effort in Iraq and the war on terror... And rescue work would have been more effective if a section of National Guard from the areas affected had not been sent to Baghdad and Kabul... And would George Bush have left his holiday ranch more quickly if the disaster had not first struck the most disadvantaged populations of the black south?

Ireland's The Irish Times
This is a defining moment for Mr Bush, just as much as 9/11 was. So far his reputation for prompt and firm crisis management has fallen far short of what is required.

Saudi Arabia's Saudi Gazette
The episode illustrates that when the normal day-to-day activity of society disintegrates, the collapse of civilisation is only a few paces behind. We all walk on the edge of the abyss.

Musib Na'imi in Iran's Al-Vefagh
About 10,000 US National Guard troops were deployed [in New Orleans] and were granted the authority to fire at and kill whom they wanted, upon the pretext of restoring order. This decision is an indication of the US administration's militarist mentality, which regards killing as the only way to control even its own citizens.

Samih Sa'ab in Lebanon's Al-Nahar
The destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina... has proved that even the No 1 superpower in the world is helpless in facing nature's 'terrorism'.

Pakistan's The Nation
To augment the tragedy, the government of the world's richest nation defied the general expectation that at the first sign of the storm it would muster an armada of ships, boats and helicopters for the rescue operation. For nearly three days it sat smugly apathetic to the people's plight, their need for food, medicine and other basic necessities.

Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po
This disaster is a heavy blow to the United States, and a lesson which deserves deep thought... [It] is a warning to the Bush administration that the United States must clear its head and truly assume its responsibility to protect nature and the environment in which humankind lives.

Ambrose Murunga in Kenya's Daily Nation
My first reaction when television images of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans came through the channels was that the producers must be showing the wrong clip. The images, and even the disproportionately high number of visibly impoverished blacks among the refugees, could easily have been a re-enactment of a scene from the pigeonholed African continent.

Thanks to PJB and the BBC.

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