The Decline Sets In

Since September 11, 2002, when he morphed the War on Terror into the War on Iraq, I have maintained the George W. Bush is the worst President in American history. Unless his successor manages to repair the damage, citizens will look back at the Bush II reign as a time when the fundamental underpinnings of America’s economy, social structure, civic tradition, and domestic defenses were compromised while the nation’s wealth was squandered on an unnecessary war, immoral tax cuts for the wealthiest, and venal domestic spending instead of being utilized to form and lead the post-petroleum world.

Seeing the anarchy in New Orleans, today sure does seem distant from the time when the late reporter David Bloom could shame post-Hurricane Andrew looters in South Florida by pointing a camera and microphone at them, huh? Or from the orderly evacuation and recovery from the Mississippi River floods of 1993.

There is actually little that politicians need to do in disasters save for providing the funding and priorities for the agencies that handle them and coordinating immediate preparation. The administration’s inability to put the able career managers of these events into place with adequate manpower and supplies and the resulting preventable human death, misery, and general destruction is a national disgrace. Lest anyone choose to forget the images of anarchy in New Orleans once they are mitigated, they would be wise to remember its lesson: your home is only one flood, hurricane, tornado, tidal wave, earthquake, eruption or terrorist attack away from chaos.

There was a tiny news item that has already disappeared from the AP wire and did not appear in the morning papers that serves as a touchstone of Bush’s America. Hugo Chavez, the Socialist president of Venezuela, offered 1,000 to 2,000 troops, food, fuel and other assistance for the recovery effort in New Orleans, which the Administration appears to have declined lest they be embarrassed by taking aid from a man they despise and their lunatic fundamentalist backers want assassinated. Chavez’s gamesmanship could be dismissed, if his offer was not so sorely needed. Starved of the ability to care for its own in the wake of a natural disaster, after five years of “President” Bush the United States of America is settling into a great decline.