Tuesday, August 30, 2005

 

Bush Fiddles...

Leadership Anyone?

Remember 9/11? Remember how we didn't hear from the President until late in the evening? I'm kind of getting the same feeling with Katrina. Like 9/11, the massive Hurricane that ripped through the Gulf states requires decisive, if only symbolic, leadership. To date, the President has made only a few comments prior to the storm's landfall, and yesterday made some off-hand comments about the storm during a Medicare speech. He should be more bold in his approach to the storm and the government's commitment to help mitigate the likely spike in oil prices. This is supposed to be his area of strength.

First and foremost, hundreds of thousands of Americans are now homeless and Mr. Bush continues his month long vacation. At most he could fly back to Washington to personally expedite the disaster relief requests of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana (all states that helped him get elected). At the very least, he could work from Crawford and talk with the media about the work the federal government is doing to augment or assist the various states. Mr. Bush's alleged empathy is supposed to be his strength and he could do wonders for his dismal approval rating by taking action in the face of a regional disaster.

Second, the jittery energy markets need to be soothed and only bold decisive action can do that. While I certainly give Mr. Bush credit for finally considering using some of the strategic petroleum reserve if needed, his attempt so far is too timid. He should announce that he is concerned with the impact the hurricane will have on already tight energy supplies and that the government will take any and all action to help solve the problem in the short and mid term. He should announce that the federal government will open up federal lands (or closed military bases) for the constructions of new oil refineries. In short he should talk up the market.

You may be saying, this is all fine and good Elephant, but it is largely symbolic. Yes, it is, but leadership is also about reassuring people that the full power of the federal apparatus will be utilized to help out. Even if relief takes days to reach the needed folks, repeatedly telling them that help is one the way, that they can expect it by day XXX can help head off the crisis in confidence that plagued his father after the equally calamitous aftermath of Hurricane Andrew.

Bush, per usual, will probably step up to the challenge, but as is his custom, it'll be a day late and dollar short...mark my words. Another in a long line of missed opportunities for leadership.

Comments:
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Blinq | Katrina from bloggers'-eye views
"The wind is really picking up now and I hear the roof above me wobble," John Strain, a psychiatric social worker, wrote as Katrina bore down on Covington, La., yesterday.
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This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
This new trend of spamming blog comments is kind of annoying. I mean, I'm rather proud of/excited about my very new website, but while I don't have a clue about how to promote it I am not going to start by irritating people who write blogs.

Here's hoping that trend is short-lived.

By the way, I agree that symbolic action is very important for the office of the POTUS, mostly because part of that job is acting as our identifiable leader.
 
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