Sunday, September 04, 2005


I just spent a half-hour reading today's coverage of Katrina in the Times. The hurricane is, it's clear, worse than 9/11. As one journalist argues, "one of the most fundamental lessons Americans thought their leaders had learned [from 9/11] - that mountains needed to be moved to prepare for the unexpected - seemed to some to have fallen short."

Fittingly, Bush is under fire from the right and the left. David Brooks:

Katrina was the anti-9/11... Katrina means that the political culture, already sour and bloody-minded in many quarters, will shift. There will be a reaction. There will be more impatience for something new. There is going to be some sort of big bang as people respond to the cumulative blows of bad events and try to fundamentally change the way things are.
Frank Rich:
Though history is supposed to occur first as tragedy, then as farce, even at this early stage we can see that tragedy is being repeated once more as tragedy. From the president's administration's inattention to threats before 9/11 to his disappearing act on the day itself to the reckless blundering in the ill-planned war of choice that was 9/11's bastard offspring, Katrina is déjà vu with a vengeance. The president's declaration that "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees" has instantly achieved the notoriety of Condoleezza Rice's "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center." The administration's complete obliviousness to the possibilities for energy failures, food and water deprivation, and civil disorder in a major city under siege needs only the Donald Rumsfeld punch line of "Stuff happens" for a coup de grâce. [See below!]
I could hardly make it through the stories. I mean, come on:
There were still signs of lawlessness today. The New Orleans police said officers shot and killed at least five gunmen who had opened fire on a group of contractors traveling across a bridge on their way to make repairs to the 17th Street Canal, The Associated Press reported. The contractors were traveling across the Danziger Bridge under police escort when they came under fire.
As one volunteer says in a horrifying piece about the rescuers, "I don't feel like I'm in the U.S. I feel like I'm in a war. All the guns, the chaos."

Bush sent his can't-do squad of deputies down to see what's happening, and as Frank Rich insinuated, they exhibited their usual people skills:
Upon his arrival at the airport, Mr. Rumsfeld spoke to and shook hands with military and rescue officials, but he walked right by a dozen refugees lying on stretchers just feet away from him, most of them extremely sick or handicapped, Reuters reported.
That's par for the course. One Louisiana official is quoted to devastating effect in the long story on criticism of Dear Leader's non-leadership:
The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything... His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, 'Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?' And he said, 'Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday.' And she drowned Friday night.