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September 14, 2005
How Bush Blew It

Responsibility taking aside, Newsweek has a good piece detailing the president's failure in responding to Hurricane Katrina.

Like so many major tragedies, this was a "failure of imagination." That phrase was, I think, first used to describe the Apollo I disaster, where 3 astronauts suffered a fiery death on the launch pad during a routine test, nearly dooming the entire moon landing program. They couldn't open the hatch from the inside—nobody thought they would ever have to. And they died.

When you look back on these kinds of failures, it always seems so obvious. How could someone make a spacecraft hatch that couldn't be opened from the inside? Well, it was designed to operate in space, and they just didn't imagine the situation.

The disastrous response (or lack thereof) to Hurricane Katrina, though, was different. They did imagine this, that's the problem. There were reports written, warning issued. People knew this was possible, even likely. The failure of imagination here comes in the scope of the tragedy. Some guy behind a desk 4 years ago may have said that this could happen, but nobody really imagined what it would actually be like. It's possibly beyond the scope of our imagination, despite the fact that these things have happened before and will happen again. If we lived consciously with the idea that these kinds of things were always around the corner, we wouldn't survive. We have to pretend.

That 'we', however, only refers to individuals, to regular people, living their lives. Government is not an individual, it's a collective; or it's supposed to be. Government should be able to hold these things in its mind, because we can't. It should be able to imagine and plan for the worst, because we can't by ourselves. It takes collective imagination to say, "this might never happen, but if it does and we're not prepared, the consequences are too horrible to consider" and to be prepared. It takes collective imagination to see a storm coming and set supplies and relief at the ready before they are needed. The collective imagination of the American public did this. We all sat staring at our TVs, wondering why nobody was doing anything, why nobody had done anything. But our government, our official collective, failed. It was too wrapped up in itself, and forgot that it represents not itself, but the rest of us.

The real relief from this storm has come from the people, not from the government. We have done more and given more than they ever could. We see ourselves in the victims, our leaders don't. Our leader, singular, specifically, does not. He has never struggled for anything nor been threatened in any real way. He doesn't watch the news, he doesn't see what his country is. He doesn't want to know, and then it's too late. Thousands die.

It's time to clean house. It's time to get back to the real thing. Government by the people, for the people, is really in danger of perishing from this earth, or at least from this country. Too dramatic? Maybe. They thought the reports of what would happen when the levees broke were too dramatic too.


Previous Comments

Yep, Bush blew it by intentionally cutting as many government aid programs, soon as he took office. Good job, jerk.

On a side note, Anthony, I notice at times your page displays wierd on my browser. The text from the middle news column seems to spill over into the left gray column, making the posts unsettling to read. Any ideas on how to fix this? I've noticed it happening on quite a few different computers, actually.

Jer, what browsers and systems have you seen this happen on? On the home page, or on individual entry pages? Any specifics you can give me will help me track down the problem.. thanks.

I've noticed the issue on your home page. Individual entries, such as the one that lets me comment here, seem to be fine. I'm using Internet Explorer version 6, and above.

Thanks for the info. I'll look into it.