Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bush: "We delivered!" New Orleans: "No, you didn't!"

Huffington Post
Steven G. Brant
Bush: "We delivered!" New Orleans: "No, you didn't!"

"Ford to NYC: 'Drop Dead!'"

Every New Yorker old enough to remember the '76 election recalls that headline in The New York Daily News. It summed up then President Gerard Ford's opinion regarding New York City's huge fiscal problems as only the Daily News could. As legendary New York City columnist Jimmy Breslin recalled a couple of years ago, that headline "helped make Jimmy Carter the president."

"We delivered!" were President Bush's equally emphatic words, delivered in New Orleans on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to NBC News anchor Brian Williams (who, for reasons perhaps only known to Mr. Williams, did not challenge Bush on his claim). President Bush was, of course, referring to the response by the Federal government to the needs of the people of New Orleans.

I think "We delivered!" will turn out to be Bush's version of "Drop Dead!".

The exact words Mr. Bush used, as reported on were:

"When it's all said and done, the people down here know that I stood in Jackson Square [a year ago] and said, 'We're going to help you,' and we delivered," he said. "What matters is that we help the good people here rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, and we're going to do that.

UPDATE: And here's the video, which I was just able to get a hold of.

Of course, Mr. Bush was being positive and supportive in his remarks. Nothing to get down on him about here. Right? After all, Ford was showing himself to be cold-hearted. Bush is demonstrating he's a warm-hearted., "compassionate conservative".

Ford certainly didn't "heart" NY. Bush definitely "hearts" New Orleans. In fact, President Bush was actually responding to Brian Williams' telling him that some people say the Federal government's poor response to the devestation in New Orleans reflects Bush's "partrician upbringing". That's what led Bush to say the words above.

So, why do I say that I think "We delivered!" will be President Bush's "Drop Dead!"?

Because he lied. Because he doesn't care.

Bush may care about poor people, personally; but he doesn't care if the Federal government actually gets the job done in New Orleans...if it actually "delivers".

And everyone knows it.

Well, I suppose President Bush himself might not know it. But that would require him to be delusional.

Yes, he could be delusional rather than a liar. In fact, he mixes the present and future tenses in his two sentences. First saying "We delivered." and then saying "we're going to do that." (not "we did that already and will do more.") So, maybe he really wishes he had delivered after one year what he really knows will take many years to deliver (at the rate he is going). Hmmm. Choices, choices.

Well, with Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and Don Rumsfeld having decided to label everyone who thinks things aren't going well in Iraq as "fascist sympathizers", I'm going to stick with my opinion that Bush lied. Sorry. I'm just not feeling charitable at the moment.

By the way, when I say "everyone knows the Federal government hasn't 'delivered'", it's because of discussions such as the one below, from the PBS Newshour. Of course, this is just one example. But I like it for how thoughtful it was. (This video is only the first 5 minutes of the discussion, because I'm focused on the "delivered or not?" question. If you want to see the rest, you'll be able to find it on YouTube.)

Here's my hope, which you've probably guessed by now.

If "Drop Dead!" cost Ford the presidency, I hope "We delivered!" helps cost the Bush administration their majorities in the House and Senate.

Are you listening, Democratic Senatorial and Congressional Campaign Committees?
One footnote to the PBS video: At the end, you will hear Sean Reilly, chair of the state and local legislative task force of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, blame the Army Corps of Engineers for what happened to New Orleans.

He literally says this was a man-made engineering failure. Well, since my undergraduate degree happens to be in civil engineering and since I spent 10 years working for the Army Corps of Engineers in NYC, I'd like to point out to Mr. Reilly that - especially when it comes to the "civil works" part of its mission - the Corps of Engineers responds to political needs and demands and funding restrictions imposed by politicians just like all other federal agencies. The colonels who run the various district offices risk harming their careers if they go against the will of their political masters.

I'm not saying the Corps of Engineers shouldn't share the blame. But what I am saying is that the Corps exists within a larger system called "the government". It is that larger system which failed the people of New Orleans. So, please Mr. Reilly - and anyone else who is getting in line to put ALL the blame on the Corps of Engineers - stop doing this now. Don't make further fools of yourselves than you already have.

It's the system that failed, not just one part.