September 02, 2005

Competence: Could We Get Some?

Read something today in which it was suggested that Guiliani would be a better choice to lead recovery efforts in New Orleans and other areas devastated by Katrina. Hold on, let me find it--yeah, here we go:

[Newt Gingrich] urged Bush to name former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as the White House point person for relief efforts. "We need to get the job done now, and I don't think anybody is better prepared to do that psychologically and otherwise than Rudy Giuliani," Gingrich told The Associated Press.
This is meant in no way as criticism of Giuliani, but look: Instead of putting a superhero costume on the former New York mayor, why can't we look at what made him "prepared to do that" in the first place?

Here's a hint: I don't think it was anything "psychological."

It's easy to forget now, but Giuliani took some grief for ensuring New York's disaster-preparedness. Every dime spent there was a dime not being spent on [insert need here]. And even after September 11, some people still weren't happy--though in the case of one of those links, they were socialists, and as we well know, socialists are never happy. You could put Santa Claus in charge of effecting wealth redistribution and nationalized healthcare, and a true socialist would merely say it was offensive to non-Christians and didn't go far enough besides.

Giuliani, last I looked, is mortal. One day he's not going to be around to be suggested as a better choice than Michael Brown. Actually, at this point I'd put forth all kinds of unlikely candidates as a better choice than Michael Brown, whose stock response is just a variation on "everything's fine," when everything is clearly not fine.

If we want more capable, competent people in government and fewer ineffective spokespersons, we have to start acting like we deserve them. We have to start demanding them. Right now, we aren't. We're complaining that Bush didn't strike the right tone in his first speech about Katrina when, frankly, that should be the last thing we care about. I'm sorry the "laundry list" of supplies being sent to the affected areas Bush provided was so "Arbor Day," but I'm lots sorrier that editorials in the New York Times now feature all the thought and gravitas of forum postings about the next season of The Real World.

Because I'm a wingnut, and therefore required by law to do so at least once a week, I blame Clinton--that's who got us hooked on the fantasy of A President Who Really Cares. I don't want a president who really cares; I want a president who will get to work right away. But apparently, some of us miss the Guy Who Really Cared. We wish he were talking to us all right now, biting his lip and clearly fighting back a tear or two, unloading a truckload of--not food, water, medicine, or anything useful, but sympathy, hope, optimism, and other sweet, abstract notions you can't use to eat, drink, or cure cholera.

We shouldn't care about any of that. We should care about the inadequate response; we should care about what's being done and what's not being done, and we should demand that our leaders tell us the truth about these things. And then we should quit plugging our fingers into our ears and screaming "I ain't tryin' to hear that!" when sometimes that truth is distasteful.

Otherwise we're just in for more months of Michael Brown saying he's had "no reports of unrest," when I could sit one of my cats down at this computer, place her paw at some random point on the keyboard, and pull up a story of "unrest" in New Orleans.

The people suffering there deserve better than that.

Posted by Ilyka at September 2, 2005 05:29 PM in news | TrackBack

I'm as much of a wingnut (And an Ilyka fanboy, for those that need reminding) as they come, but I think the blaming Clinton for setting a tone of "caring" and what not is a BIT of a stretch.



Why is anybody politicizing this or making judgement calls as to who let it get so bad this early in the game? Especially when baloney like the "BUSH CUT LEVEE FUNDING CUZ HE HATES THEMS BLACKS, THAT RACIST EVANGELICAL HALLIBURTON MORON RETHUG..." etc gets discredited as fast is it pops up.

Well, of course, the nutty Leftists will attack Bush no matter what, always to the media's complacent ear. Thank you NYTimes.

But I would like to know why people like Brown are so stupid on the matter, as I tend to gauge most political happenings on a "Why would I do it given me in that position?" scale, and the Brown comments aren't flying.

Posted by: OHNOES at September 2, 2005 07:14 PM

I not sure why you needed nine paragraphs to say something that could have been said in one: The response of the federal government of the richest nation in the world has been pitiful even by third world standards.

As for all of the other irrelevancy of your post, see this. Bush downsized and privatized FEMA, making it the hapless organization that's kind of providing relief to New Orleans.

But this isn't really the point. This fiasco has shown that the billions of dollars we have spent on homeland security has apparently all been wasted. Surely these fools must have considered what would need to be done if a terrorist detonated a dirty bomb in a major US city. You would have to have mass evacuations and humanitarian aid to the survivors. Surely they would have drawn up contingency plans for sheltering the flow of refugees, especially since they would probably not be able to return anytime soon to what would be left of their homes.

As New Orleans has pointed out, none of this has been done. What is their solution, to house 20,000 people in the Astrodome for six months? This is nothing less than a total break down of the essential services that government is supposed to provide, and most of the blame must be laid on Bush's doorstep.

And don't think that the terrorists aren't noticing this.

Posted by: Mark at September 2, 2005 07:30 PM

Wow, is there any evil in this world that President Bush did NOT cause?

Posted by: OHNOES at September 2, 2005 07:43 PM

Mark, could you do us all a favor and shove your head back up your ass? Thanx.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 2, 2005 07:58 PM

By the way, Mark, do state governments exist? Because I think your post assumes that they don't.

Posted by: OHNOES at September 2, 2005 08:01 PM

Scratch a lefty, find someone yearning for a Joe Stalin to run his life.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 2, 2005 08:27 PM

Don't pick at them, you'll only make it worse, Andrea.

Posted by: OHNOES at September 2, 2005 08:43 PM

Ew, yeah. I forgot.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 2, 2005 08:55 PM

Mark, Andrea and OHNOES said it best. You are a clueless, ignorant leftie.

Ilyka, spot on. Disaster preparedness is the bastard child of most governments, especially at the city level. Often, the city or county emergency manager/coordinator is some semi-retired schmoe, hired to give the pretense that the local government cares. Sometimes, that person is dual hatted as a police officer or fireman, and often can't place the time and effort needed for the job.

In fact, the Department of Homeland Security has helped increase disaster readiness at the local level. Funding is available for personnel, equipment, and training. The emergency manager of my home county has been especially aggressive in getting those funds, and has done much to raise our local capabilities. It's been quite impressive.

Simply grabbing some figurehead and thrown him or her into the fray will do nothing to help in Louisiana. The ultimate problem there is the clear lack of disaster preparedness by both the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans. We've had other cities get hit by disasters, and what unrest there was (and it is inevitable in these situations, some people go out of their to create misery) was taken care by the state and local authorities, including asking for federal assistance.

I haven't heard of major unrest in that a lack of news coverage, or a lack of unrest? I suspect the latter. If so, the folks across the border need to learn from this example.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at September 2, 2005 10:49 PM

I hate to fall back on unbacked cliches, but the Louisiana State and New Orleans city governments most certainly deserve some blame, especially the recent... mayoral corruption of NOLA, I think.

Posted by: OHNOES at September 3, 2005 12:25 AM

Bush requested mandatory evacuation

Well, actually I think it might be prudent to give the federal government, specifically, The President of the United States (!) a bit of credit for something!!!

Posted by: JannyMae at September 3, 2005 10:34 AM

Sorry, hit post too soon! This is from the above article:

"Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding."

Posted by: JannyMae at September 3, 2005 10:36 AM

Lefties are too busy hugging their race and "vacation" cards to give Bush any credit.

Posted by: OHNOES at September 3, 2005 01:44 PM

Give Bush CREDIT? I was being sarcastic, of course. They are way too busy trying to blame him for anything and everything. I believe that if Bush had actually tried to intervene more, they (the Gov and the Mayor) would have been screaming at him about circumventing their authority. Truth is, as we all know, they would not have been satisfied, regardless of what the Feds did:
This is very well said, on that subject!

Posted by: JannyMae at September 3, 2005 02:55 PM

At the risk of sounding like a Giuliani fangirl, which I'm not, as I fully recognize his boatload of flaws, I do think that there is something about his personality as well which makes him good in a crisis. He's just a take-charge kind of guy. In fact, it's a quality that gets downright annoying when there isn't a crisis. Man isn't happy unless he's fixing a problem. It is, in fact, that very personality trait that kept him on disaster preparedness even when it was unpopular. That and stopping people from being able to cross at every corner in midtown Manhattan. Like I said. Annoying trait when there isn't a crisis.

I remember an editorial in a New York paper (can't recall which of the three it was anymore) that described Giuliani as not being a good "peace-time don". Perfect description of him.

Posted by: Lesley at September 4, 2005 06:49 AM

Frankly, I find this a whole lot interesting. Why is it that magical powers have been ascribed to Guliani and not to GW? I mean, waitaminit. Guiliani is obviously using his powers for good and to avoid evil, and GW is not. That's it, innit? It's so hard to figure these logical fallacies out.

I mean, if you listen to Jesse Jackson, he beleives that GW is the greatest thing since Superman! Not only should GW have stood in the Gulf and stopped the hurricane, but he should have somehow intuitively known exactly what aid was needed, immediately, and magically should have blinked the National Guard on the spot. (To hell with that driving trucks for four days to get to NOLA. You know?)

I'm hormonal and admittedly brain-damaged (the baby is eating my brain) but it gives me a headache trying to figure out whatinhell the loony left expected the President to do in this situation -- ever mindful of the fact that it took DAYS for the Mayor of NOLA, the Governor of Louisiana and the FEMA Director to be in THE SAME ROOM.

It's just so easy to blame Bush -- innit?

Posted by: Margi at September 4, 2005 12:57 PM