Saturday, September 03, 2005

Beyond Incompetence

A Senator from Louisiana is accusing George III and his entourage of having faked relief efforts as a backdrop to a photo op. This is not satire. This is not a joke. She will be featured on 60 minutes tomorrow and on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. I probably should be cautious about this though. Knowing Karl Rove is back on the job, I suspect that some fake outrage will sooner or later be leaked. The accusation will be denied. Debate will grow. Proof that the accusation is unfounded will be discovered. All charges against the president will be equated with this one. The president will be exonerated, his opposition discredited and vilified, and his popularity will rise again. Perhaps I am too cynical. In this case at least, the accusation is coming from a US Senator posted on her US government website. I hope she can back up her claim.

    Landrieu Implores President to "Relieve Unmitigated Suffering;" End FEMA's "Abject Failures"
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., issued the following statement this afternoon regarding her call yesterday for President Bush to appoint a cabinet-level official to oversee Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery efforts within 24 hours.

    Sen. Landrieu said:

    "Yesterday, I was hoping President Bush would come away from his tour of the regional devastation triggered by Hurricane Katrina with a new understanding for the magnitude of the suffering and for the abject failures of the current Federal Emergency Management Agency. 24 hours later, the President has yet to answer my call for a cabinet-level official to lead our efforts. Meanwhile, FEMA, now a shell of what it once was, continues to be overwhelmed by the task at hand.

    "I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims -- far more efficiently than buses -- FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency.

    "But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast -- black and white, rich and poor, young and old -- deserve far better from their national government.

    "Mr. President, I'm imploring you once again to get a cabinet-level official stood up as soon as possible to get this entire operation moving forward regionwide with all the resources -- military and otherwise -- necessary to relieve the unmitigated suffering and economic damage that is unfolding."

    Today's aerial tour of the 17th Street levee will be featured tomorrow on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Later, Sen. Landrieu will also appear on CBS's 60 Minutes.

There is some discussion of her statement here. The update, if confirmed, is something else.

But thinking back over the last few years, I wonder if this should seem all that shocking. It fits right in context with the whole shameless Jessica Lynch fakery, the posing in a flight suit Mission Accomplished bullshit, the faked crowd around the pulling down of the statue of Saddam Hussain etc., etc. etc. Just another point in a Potemkin presidency.


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