On Evaluating President Bush

It’s hard to look at what’s happening in Louisiana and not think that we’ve seen a massive failure of the federal, state, and local governments in responding to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. It’s hard to understand how someone like the Secretary of Homeland Security can be so blithely clueless about people stranded in the city.

But that cluelessness has to come from somewhere. And it does, right from the top, right from the President himself. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s take on Bush’s leadership: “oblivious, in denial, dangerous.”

How can anyone think otherwise, when Bush said he wanted to get on with his life, when a photo-op in San Diego was more important than corralling the leadership needed to evacuate the refugees from a flooded New Orleans, when a photo-op with Atlanta firemen in New Orleans’ ruins was more important than sending the firemen into the city to offer what aid and assistance they could. What we have now is a Potemkin presidency, one that can do lasting damage to the institutional and the United States itself.

This failure of leadership is what happens when we’ve had warning. I shudder to think what will happen when America faces another disaster, this time a man-made disaster for which there is no warning. I can only hope that the leadership so rightly called “oblivious, in denial, dangerous” will have passed on to more capable hands.

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