Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Simmering Over Leadership

I spent the whole of Labor Day Holiday Weekend at a slow simmer. I relied on the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament (the superb Srichapan/Sanguinetti match, Agassi's victory, and James Blake's phenomenal tennis in particular), the gritty play of the Nationals, and visits to my Father in the hospital to avoid getting angry at our administration. At dinner at the In-Laws Sunday evening, my levee broke. My Father-in-Law, who is a conservative in the classic Barry Goldwater mode, was still amazed that people in New Orleans didn't evacuate when told to do so. And then it hit me like bullet to the forehead: the reason I was simmering all weekend became very clear to me. And I turned to my Father-in-Law and I said something like this:

You know something, FIL? There is a difference between ordering people to evacuate and evacuating people. The former requires nothing more than wishful thinking while the latter requires something that this administration knows nothing about: leadership. I may not have voted for President Bush, and neither did the majority of people in New Orleans, but we have one thing in common: we're American citizens. And he is our President. And our President must lead all of us. Even those of us who disagree with him. Even those of us who didn't contribute to his campaigns. Even those of us who didn't vote for him. All of us. This President and his administration have proven themselves to be complete failures in the face of a disaster that may make September 11, 2001 look like a bad traffic accident in comparison. I am sick and tired of being angry at my President. Right now, more than ever, I want my President to lead me. But I'm afraid he doesn't know how.

I finished and took another bite of the amazing hamburger that my FIL made. He looked at me and slowly nodded his head in agreement.


John B. said...

I am beginning to think that it boils down to a lack of compassion on the part of this administration. Or a lack of understanding as to how devastating this disaster was/is.

It was pointed out this weekend how comparitively late we came to the aid of the tsunami victims. Same issues apply with Katrina.

lemming said...

I think your point about the difference between ordering an evacuation and assisting with the evacuation bears repeating. I'm staggered by the number of sick who have been evacuated to other hospitals with no effort made to compile a master list.

Joe said...

And planning and ordering an evacuation is a different thing than disaster recovery. And, I would argue, rightly the domain of the state and local authorities.

tommyspoon said...

Point taken, Joe. I would add that preparing for disasters like Katrina falls squarely in the Fed's wheelhouse of responsibility.

CPF, I would only make one change to Kanye West's remarks of last Friday night: I would remove the word "black."