Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Race Card? I don't think so

In all the emotions of the past week, it is understandable that incriminations are being hurled everywhere. One that I have been frequently hearing is that there would have been a quicker Federal response, had it been white people who were in this situation rather than black people. I guess I'm just not cynical enough to buy into that theory. I think it was more of a matter of poor leadership and mismanagement on the Federal level and bureaucracy getting in the way between the States and the Feds. There were poor white communities outside of New Orleans that received help no faster than the folks in New Orleans. I can certainly understand the blacks of New Orleans feeling this way as they look around and only see each other and few whites, but then New Orleans is 70% black as well, so that shouldn't be too big of a surprise. This was the first big test of how Homeland Security would operate now that they had incorporated FEMA under their wing. Obviously, they failed and have to now totally reevaluate how to improve their response. As horrible as New Orleans is, this may serve as a very big and much needed wakeup call.

I hate to say it, but I think much of the blame has to land at GW's doorstep - when you're the man in charge, you have to know the details of your operation - as any good CEO knows, "the devil is in the details". It's not enough to hire people and assume they know what they are doing - you have to be ever vigilant and make sure that those who are working for you have credible plans in place. Unfortunately, I just don't think this President has that mental capability - no slam on him as a person - we weren't all born geniuses. However, someone in charge of a country this large does need to have a great mind, be able to express himself well and be extraordinarily well versed in many areas. Bush is just not the right man at this time for all the crises this country is facing and will be facing in years to come. Who is that perfect person? Who knows, but they need to have the qualities mentioned above and then some.

I heard various commentators suggesting that the Feds would have been in there quicker had the governor of LA asked for it officially. Now that does sound ludicrous, but at the same time hardly surprising when one looks at how huge bureaucracies operate. It will be interesting to find out how much planning went on between the governor, the mayor and the Federal govt in regards to major disaster planning. It seems surprising that a black mayor wouldn't know that most of his constituency didn't have the means to get out of town and even if they could, didn't have the means to afford lodging anywhere. (I suspect he knew this very well). If his State didn't have the resources to go through these neighborhoods and gather up these people on buses and move them out, why didn't he plan with the Federal Govt ahead of time to have National Guard or whomever to get in there and have these buses, trucks, etc picking up these people 1-2 days prior to landfall? I would be most interested to hear that question answered. ( I heard this morning that FEMA just last year went through this very same scenario even to the point of having New Orleans completely flooded and with the understanding that these poor people didn't have the means to get out, but I also heard that they stopped there - they didn't ever go further and figure out exactly how to remove the people and where to put them - mindboggling It will be interesting to sort out the chaff from the wheat in this story in the coming days.

It has also been amazing to watch reporters on this beat - I've never seen such antipathy towards the govt expressed as has been seen here and it's across all the channels, even Fox. Tune in to this snippet on Fox to see what I mean. (It will take a while to download, so if you're on dialup, go eat breakfast or something and come back). It's total disgust for the talking heads in DC and their ineffectiveness - truly history in the making. It will be quite interesting to see how all this plays out in the coming weeks.

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