The Unfeeling President Should Be Held Accountable

Editor’s Note: The Democratic Daily is posting our first Guest Blog today. We strive to continually bring our readers news, views and opinions with a common sense approach and we seek to tear down the walls that have been built up for so long by the Noise Machine, that barricade the truth. We’ve all watched in recent days as the MSM has woken from their deep slumber by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and the failure of our federal government in the Gulf Coast. We all hope that this is the start of new beginning. Many thanks to Carla Binion for sending this our way…

The Unfeeling President Should Be Held Accountable
By Carla Binion

The novelist E. L. Doctorow once said of George W. Bush, “He is the president who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead, he does not feel for the 35 million of us who live in poverty.”

Bush’s disconnect from normal human feeling, his general lack of seriousness and abysmal leadership skills have always been evident. His response to the recent hurricane has only highlighted them. What are the consequences of our failure to hold Bush accountable?

Bush’s demeanor has been eerily upbeat as thousands of corpses floated through the streets of New Orleans. He said in one recent speech, “The good news is – and it’s hard for some to see it now – that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house – he’s lost his entire house – there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch.”

The emotional disconnect runs in the family. After viewing hurricane evacuees at the Houston Astrodome, the president’s mother, Barbara Bush, said: “So many of the people in the arena here, you know were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.”

If any of us ever doubted that empathy and mature seriousness are necessary character traits in a political leader, few doubt it now. Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina and his failure to promptly aid hurricane victims contributed to thousands, possibly as many as ten thousand, needless deaths. This could be described as criminal negligence or murder by neglect.

The human suffering has been ghastly. One newspaper quoted Robert Lewis, a hurricane victim who was bussed to Texas: “There were bodies floating past my door. We were, like, on an island. We did the best we could. We were just like zombies walking around at night.” The same paper reported: “At least a thousand corpses, some being eaten by rats, are floating through the city’s drowned streets…People are killing themselves in despair.”

In at least one of the city’s evacuation shelters, people were murdered and raped, including one child. Tens of thousands lived for days among raw sewage and suffocating heat, with virtually no food and water and no help from government officials.

While this suffering went on, Bush made one flippant remark after another and did lighthearted photo ops. He fell back on Karl Rove-inspired spin, warning that his critics should avoid “politicizing” the hurricane tragedy, as if covering his own tracks were his primary concern.

Much of the misery and death was preventable. Articles in the New Orleans Times-Picayune reveal that Bush cut funding for Army Corp of Engineers projects to strengthen and raise New Orleans levees, despite the paper’s repeated warnings that disastrous flooding was certain to occur. The paper reported it was “a matter of when, not if” levee improvement would be needed.

The Times-Picayune reported on June 8, 2004: “It appears that the money [for the levees] has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq.”

Bush also undercut the authority of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by shifting it into the Department of Homeland Security thereby weakening its effectiveness in preventing catastrophic hurricane damage. Despite these facts, the administration’s spin has been that they couldn’t have done anything in advance that might have helped alleviate the massive loss of life.

The spin has also been that the president will later conduct his own investigation to determine what went wrong, as if the above information weren’t already widely known. We don’t need further investigation to show Bush bears responsibility.

For the first two days of the crisis, Bush piddled around his ranch. He gave a speech comparing the Iraq war to World War II, and laughed while playing guitar with a country singer.

He gave silly, out of touch speeches, saying at one press conference on the fourth day after the flooding began, “Hopefully, most people have gotten themselves onto roofs and have been picked up. But, as I said, rather than give you a guesstimate, I can tell you that as long as there is someone on a roof waving a flag, we’re going to be sending a helicopter out there to get them.”

All Americans who voted for Bush, and those in Congress and the mainstream media who have placed confidence in his leadership, should remember this fact: The signs were there all along that this man didn’t have the mental acumen or depth needed to lead the country.

People laughed when warned Bush would only serve as an ill-informed figurehead, delegating all responsibility to others. It turns out the president isn’t even good at delegating, considering, for example, the performance of his delegated head of FEMA.

Many media pundits insisted Bush’s incurious nature and his failure to read widely or reflect deeply wouldn’t be necessary in a president. However, a better informed, more thoughtful leader might have heeded the disaster warnings and acted quickly to save thousands of lives.

As E. L. Doctorow wrote, “The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses.”

“This president does not know what death is. He hasn’t the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the weapons of mass destruction he can’t seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man.”

“He does not mourn. He doesn’t understand why he should mourn…To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing…He does not regret that, rather than controlling terrorism, his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice…He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves.”

As we mourn the unnecessary deaths brought on by Bush’s Iraq war and the preventable deaths caused by the recent hurricane, we need to remember that for far too long many Americans coddled and enabled this unfeeling, emotionally disconnected, lightweight, incompetent president. The blood on his hands is also on the hands of any people who knew what he was and supported him anyway, and no amount of Karl Rove’s spin or Republican talking points can change that reality.

Bush supporters say now (as they’ve said since Bush first seized office) that their critics should be silent. They say now isn’t the time to address the Bush administration’s misconduct regarding the hurricane.

Would this be a bad time to bring up the fact that the majority of Hurricane Katrina’s victims were African Americans who were living in poverty? Martin Luther King said in his letter from the Birmingham City Jail: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of good people.”

Knowing what we now know about Bush’s character and failed leadership, silence would again be an appalling option. Thousands of lives might have been saved if we’d held this unfeeling, tragically inept president accountable long ago.

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6 Responses to The Unfeeling President Should Be Held Accountable

  1. Ginny in CO says:

    I think what infuriates me the most is that we are still being told “Judge not”. Wait until later. We have been talking and writing, cajoling, warning, and sometimes yelling about this man for years. We will not, we cannot wait.

    The MSM was too embedded and enriched to do their jobs. The GOP base was too scared and indoctrinated to be able to absorb facts or think for themselves. Nor would the distorted and inaccurate messages they heard have led them to think or see the truth. The GOP was the willing puppet of the Neocons.

    The Democrats have been blamed for not having a coherent message. For not having likable candidates that “the people” can relate to. For having “too many” plans and ideas. For only attacking the GOP and not articulating our values and prosyletizing our religious beliefs.

    Forgive us our righteous anger. We can identify too well with the stranded, abandoned, and dying victims of Katrina. We have seen the tragedies of lives ended or ruined by the health care system that has been falling apart for decades.
    The promise of children and parents squandered in an endless cycle of poverty. The dumbing of America by trash entertainment and a deteriorating education system.
    The degradation of our environment and our economy by the careless rich. The quiet erosion of communities and quality of life.

    We have been dumbfounded by the violence and hatred spewed at us by the Holier than thou Christians, totally out of proportion to whatever wrongdoing we are accused of. We are beyond fury after being repeatedly accused of the flagrant corruption that the GOP practices daily. They break the rules, we are the cheaters.

    The double standard, dual class society that Grover Norquist and the neocons have created is not our country. We too, feel homeless. No terrorists ever made us feel this way. Our own politicians, this administration, their policies and rhetoric, tear down a nation that tries to believe in itself and its mission; knowing that every day we lose ground. Not because we aren’t working. Because they break the rules and expect us to keep taking the consequences.

    We feel responsible. For not doing enough, figuring it out sooner, not realizing that the equivalent of a class 5 hurricane could creep up on this country and wreak havoc beyond our worst nightmares. However we accompish it, and accomplish it we must,
    how many people have to die, how many have their lives ruined, before this inhuman philosophy is finally defeated?

    We will never know. We can hope that, like the WTC and New Orleans, the numbers will be less than we fear. That if we try harder, have faith in ourselves and our vision, the wind will change.

  2. Teresa says:

    Beautiful, Ginny.

    The future is always a roulette wheel. We have to have faith.

  3. Grace says:

    Just read this at After Downing Street. Please read and pass on. Makes sense to me.

    Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld should be impeached and then arrested.

    ATTENTION CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS. We know you know in your heart that what Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have done with Iraq far exceeds the moral AND legal test for impeachment. So…. why won’t you stand up and say so? Why won’t you and your fellow Dems stand up and say what we all know to be true?

    You have a duty to the American people, yourself and humanity to GO TO THE MAT on this and to do it now. Shut down the governments business if that’s what you have to do to move this forward and pound it into the American mind. Use whatever guerilla parliamentary procedure is available to you. Say and do nothing else until the GOP agrees to investigate what any sane and just mind considers horrific crimes. No legislation, no issue, nothing you can personally gain or lose is more important OR POTENTIALLY MORE EFFECTIVE POLITICALLY than this. Certainly from a practical and moral standpoint nothing is more important than cutting this cancer from our government. Our safety, perhaps even our very survival depends on it.

    Mountains of evidence make clear these people have behaved in ways that make them war criminals and traitors. You must stop them before they take us to war again, before they sell out our national security again. It is your right and your duty to stop them. Only you and your fellow elected congressional Democrats can get this done. This is why the people elected you.

    Stand shoulder to shoulder, stand tall, get with your fellow elected Democrats down the hall and start saying what you believe. Say it loud, say it together and say it all the time and you will drag the media and the American mind along. Say they have committed impeachable offences, they are destroying our national security and our good name, and they must be held to account. I promise you, in the end, not only will you know you’ve done the right thing, but politically you’ll come out on top. The American people will come to know traitors and criminals in their midst if you show them often enough what they look like. And in the end they will be grateful.

    Senator Rockefeller, if you let Pat Roberts go back on his word to investigate the administrations use of intelligence history will never forgive you. History will hunt you down and punish you to the very same degree as those who have committed these despicable acts. Where are you? What could be more important than ensuring our leaders don’t twist intelligence to make fraudulent cases for war? As a member of the United States Senate you have the power to make sure this goes forward. You will have to put it on the line to be sure, but this is the right thing to do. Senator, we beg you, live up to your name. Stand tall in important ways.

    Congressman Rangel, that was a very nice press release regarding all the killing in Iraq and when will stop. Thank you for your words. Since you penned them 60 more young, impressionable (presumably disadvantaged) Americans have died in Iraq. Words are no longer enough. Our country needs action.

    Congressman Waxman, thank you for all your letters to the administration and the GOP leadership. You have shown you know right from wrong. But you have done little else. They are not listening. They don’t care. They have nothing but contempt not only for you, but for much of what America is supposed to be about. Your letters have proven to be entirely inadequate.

    And Congressman Conyers… along with Congressman Waxman you have said, written, and requested much from and about this administration. You have said a lot of words that needed to be said.

    But now it is clear we need different words now. We need words like IMPEACHEMENT and ARREST. Words like TREASON and HIGH CRIMES. We the American people need to hear words like SOLD OUT THE SECURITY OF OUR COUNTRY, OF OUR CHILDREN AND OUR LOVED ONES in order to try and COVER UP THEIR FRAUDLENT CASE FOR WAR. And we need to hear it from you and all your fellow congressional Democrats EVERY DAY.

    These are simple concepts. And once you push these words and ideas into the American mind the game will be over. Congressional Republicans will then truly fear for their own jobs. And with good reason. YOU WILL COME OUT ON TOP POLITICALLY. In fact, you have the chance to crush the Republican Party. With this war and the way in which we were driven to it you have the great weight of the truth. That truth has the potential to crush the conservative movement.

    You all owe your constituents a course of action that is effective. At this point it is clear the intransigence of this administration and the GOP leadership knows no bounds. And thus it is clear that NOTHING you will do will have any effect at all, short of standing with your fellow Democrats and doing whatever possible to shut-it-all-down until open, good faith, adequately funded and staffed congressional investigations are underway and these ideas are front and center in our media culture. America deserves nothing less. America as we know it depends on your actions in the next weeks and months. You can do it. You must do it. God speed…

  4. kj says:

    Beautifully said, Ginny.

  5. Grace

    We all want to see impeachment happen, but honestly, this about this…

    If the Democrats shut down the government in attempt to demand impeachment, how will the 10’s of thousands who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina get help?

    After all the federal government has done to them, is it fair that WE the Democrats turn their back on them too?

    If Democrats do this now, it will be wrongminded and people turn against the Democrats as well.

    Impeachment will take time. Right now 10’s of thousands of people need help, homes, jobs, medicine, treatment, counseling…

    I’m sorry, but personally I feel that is suggesting a very narrow-minded approach in the midst of this huge catastrophe.

    The people come first.