Swans Commentary » swans.com September 26, 2005  



Katrina: A Missed uh Messed Opportunity For Bush


by Philip Greenspan





(Swans - September 26, 2005)  I recall elementary school teachers telling us kids that anyone could become president of the United States, in a democracy everyone has equal opportunities to attain powerful and exalted positions in the country, and conscientious and diligent study would be rewarded with success.

Are men who gain high office really the most competent for the job? Hasn't the public been led to believe such myths erroneously?

Ideal President?

The elite, the guiding force in the country, desirous of securing and maintaining support from the citizenry at large, select candidates whom they hope can sell their programs to the public. A bright, intelligent, and charismatic individual would seem to be the ideal choice but is often a little too independent for their taste. Perhaps an incompetent like the endearing Forrest Gump, (1) who captured the hearts of that film's viewers, might fit their image of a suitable puppet president? A slick P.R. campaign and overwhelming support from the media helps the puppet to capture the hearts of the booboisie. Crazy? Yes. But the voters actually chose a Forrest Gump with the simplistic brain of a "Chauncy Gardiner" as well. (2)

By the fifth year of his presidential term two unique catastrophes had struck the United States. Many clues envisioning each occurrence preceded the disasters and with proper oversight neither should have happened. Complete incompetence by the Bush administration permitted both of these earth-shaking events.

September 11th Catastrophe

On 9/11/01 nineteen individuals hijacked four commercial airliners on a morning when usual military interceptor flights were inexplicably inoperative. Accordingly, they were able to pierce the reputed impenetrable defensive shield of the U.S. and crash the planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The rogue pilots who trained on small and dissimilar planes did not demonstrate superior flying ability. Yet they not only took control of jetliners but skillfully navigated the planes from their existing flight paths, headed hundreds of miles directly to their target areas, and struck a vulnerable location on each building.

The millions who witnessed the scenes on live television will never forget their shock and horror. Yet when Bush was apprised of what had occurred he seemed unperturbed and without apparent concern resumed his scheduled reading at a children's classroom.

Katrina Catastrophe

For years it was known that New Orleans was vulnerable and destined for a major hurricane and flooding. The Army Corps of Engineers repeatedly requested adequate funding to maintain the levees, but the Bush administration and Congress gambled some paltry savings against a sure thing bound to happen. Result: an unprecedented disaster that will ultimately cost billions upon billions.

And where was "quick draw" Georgie when emergency responses became necessary? Dawdling on the ranch and fundraising.

9/11, Hero; Katrina, Bum

In the first instance the public's reaction elevated Bush, whose ratings had been steadily dropping, to such a lofty level that he was able to accomplish almost anything he desired. But responding to Katrina in a similarly incompetent manner produced the opposite response. What if anything could account for such a difference? A magnificently pre-planned PR campaign backed by the toady media that overwhelmed a stunned public.

Dubya became a de facto king who was granted everything he requested. With the passage of time, as expectations turned into disappointments, the sterling qualities attributed to his majesty began to tarnish. With Katrina the emperor emerged naked!

Where were those wizards of public relations that performed such miracles for so long? Here was an ideal setup to raise the level of the sinking ratings once again by convincing the public their own "Forrest Gump," under the most trying circumstances, was performing another miraculous job. Yet they were slow off the mark and lost an opportunity to grab the headlines and shape the view of what was occurring in New Orleans and vicinity. It's extremely doubtful that "God's agent" will ever see those glorious days again.

If the hucksters and the PR flacks had been on the ball they might have hit another grand slam and produced another political miracle. True, it would have been a long shot. But the booboisie bought incompetence before. How about a campaign that invoked their icon Ronny Reagan? The following is a sample abstract that could have been expanded, refined and inserted into mainstream papers or otherwise employed.

The Wisdom of Ronald Reagan

Humanitarian catastrophe in New Orleans! Military quagmire in Iraq! How could it be? Extremely capable men are filling the positions of the US government. The civilian appointees to top government positions are invariably successful business executives who have sacrificed their enormous salaries and emoluments because of their fine public spirit and a devotion to serve their fellow citizens. They are titans of the caliber of those who developed and ran such great institutions as Enron, Halliburton, etc. The generals and admirals are second to none. With the weapons that private enterprise turns out for them they can kill and destroy more than any existing military power.

And isn't it fortunate that George Dubya Bush, the most suitable man for the presidential office, is in charge during such a critical period? Wasn't he touted by the major media pundits before each election? Didn't those wise old men and women of the Supreme Court distort judicial logic and constitutional principles to place this paragon where he belonged? Hasn't he been compared with the likes of wartime leaders like Churchill?

With such great talents in charge how could such a mess ensue? Ronald Reagan anticipated such disasters long before they happened. While he did not leave a well remembered farewell address like Washington who warned against foreign entanglements and Eisenhower who warned against the military-industrial complex, his repetitious assertion that "Government is the Problem" and that we should "Get Government off our Backs" warned against government and explains why the U.S. is in such a mess today. Isn't it obvious? Both the execution of the Iraq war and the clean-up of the New Orleans disaster are government operations. No matter how capable the personnel who are enlisted for the task, if government is involved inefficiency invariably results. The solution? Privatize the military and the bureaucracy!

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1.  "Forrest Gump," 1994 Paramount Picture; comedy drama starring Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump, an incompetent individual of high ideals, loyal to the political system.  (back)

2.  "Being There," 1979 Lorimar Productions/United Artists Picture; political satire starring Peter Sellers as Chance the Gardener, mistakenly called Chauncey Gardiner, a simple minded gardener whose innocuous statements on gardening are interpreted as wise assessments of political significance.  (back)


Internal Resources

Iraq on Swans

The 9/11 Saga on Swans

America the 'beautiful' on Swans


About the Author

Philip Greenspan on Swans (with bio).



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Published September 26, 2005