September 01, 2005

One area where it is fair to take the current regime to task is their complete lack of preparation for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It was not simply a matter of levee repairs that were never funded, or grasslands that were allowed to atrophy; those were problems that existed before the 2000 Election, and the fact that Democrats never used their position in the opposition to draw a line in the sand on those issues is a pretty good indicator that blame for those problems crossed party lines.

Instead, FEMA has been made to look utterly incompetent over the last few days, dealing with problems that one would have thought would have been in the forefront of this Administration's priorities, since those were problems dealing with refugees, emergency rescue and damage control: in other words, the same problems that would exist after a major terrorist attack. Bush chose to handpick political cronies to run the agency, and the utter lack of preparation in evacuating masses of people without access to cars, getting food and water to survivors, and having immediate access to medical care is unforgivable. [link via Smirking Chimp]

Ironically, the professional ran FEMA during the Clinton Administration, James Lee Witt, is a major reason why Bush made it to the White House in the first place. Prior to their first debate in 2000, major fires broke out in Texas, and FEMA assistance was required. In that debate, Mr. Witt's decisive actions drew praise from then-Governor Bush, and Vice President Gore seconded that praise, stating that he had accompanied Mr. Witt down to Texas. It turned out that he had accompanied Mr. Witt's assistant, and hadn't spoken to the FEMA director until later, but the Bush camp was able to spin that discrepancy into yet another Gore "prevarication" (in an age of fictitious WMD's, Nigerian Yellow Cake, and the billions of dollars that have disappeared in the reconstruction of Iraq, it is poignant what we used to be consider "dishonest"). What had been a debate that most of the public thought had been decisively won by Al Gore suddenly shifted, and Bush moved out to a lead in the polls that he didn't relinquish until Election Day.

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