Connecting the Dots: 9/11, Iraq, New Orleans and the Titanic

Frank Rich does it yet again, with concrete examples and dots a seventh-grader could connect.

From the president's administration's inattention to threats before 9/11 to his disappearing act on the day itself to the reckless blundering in the ill-planned war of choice that was 9/11's bastard offspring, Katrina is déjà vu with a vengeance.

The president's declaration that "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees" has instantly achieved the notoriety of Condoleezza Rice's "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center." The administration's complete obliviousness to the possibilities for energy failures, food and water deprivation, and civil disorder in a major city under siege needs only the Donald Rumsfeld punch line of "Stuff happens" for a coup de grâce.

Rich goes on to describe how Bush lost the battle of New Orleans - beginning with Fox News last Thursday:

You could almost see Mr. Bush's political base starting to crumble at its very epicenter, Fox News, by Thursday night. Even there it was impossible to ignore that the administration was no more successful at securing New Orleans than it had been at pacifying Falluja.

A visibly exasperated Shepard Smith, covering the story on the ground in Louisiana, went further still, tossing hand grenades of harsh reality into Bill O'Reilly's usually spin-shellacked "No Spin Zone." Among other hard facts, Mr. Smith noted "that the haves of this city, the movers and shakers of this city, evacuated the city either immediately before or immediately after the storm." What he didn't have to say, since it was visible to the entire world, was that it was the poor who were left behind to drown.

Rich moves on to analogies to the Titanic:

...the inequality of the suffering has not only exposed the sham of the relentless photo-ops with black schoolchildren whom the president trots out at campaign time to sell his "compassionate conservatism"; it has also positioned Katrina before a rapt late-summer audience as a replay of the sinking of the Titanic. New Orleans's first-class passengers made it safely into lifeboats; for those in steerage, it was a horrifying spectacle of every man, woman and child for himself.

THE captain in this case, Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, was so oblivious to those on the lower decks that on Thursday he applauded the federal response to the still rampaging nightmare as "really exceptional."....This Titanic syndrome, too, precisely echoes the post-9/11 wartime history of an administration that has rewarded the haves at home with economic goodies while leaving the have-nots to fight in Iraq without proper support in manpower or armor.

Rich says Bush isn't going to get a pass on this one:

But a president who flew from Crawford to Washington in a heartbeat to intervene in the medical case of a single patient, Terri Schiavo, has no business lecturing anyone about playing politics with tragedy. Eventually we're going to have to examine the administration's behavior before, during and after this storm as closely as its history before, during and after 9/11. We're going to have to ask if troops and matériel of all kinds could have arrived faster without the drain of national resources into a quagmire. We're going to have to ask why it took almost two days of people being without food, shelter and water for Mr. Bush to get back to Washington.

This goes far beyond 9/11 and New Orleans. Bush's ineptitude and failure to act swiftly and decisively endangers all of us. Al-Qaeda and the terrorists are probably laughing at their good fortune as they plot their next attack:

Now, thanks to Mr. Bush's variously incompetent, diffident and hubristic mismanagement of the attack by Katrina, he has sent the entire world a simple and unambiguous message: whatever the explanation, the United States is unable to fight its current war and protect homeland security at the same time.

< Bush Tries to Blame Blanco, Documents Say Otherwise | Poverty and Race in New Orleans >
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  • Re: Connecting the Dots: 9/11, Iraq, New Orleans (none / 0) (#1)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:11 PM EST
    Now if he could only connect the dots for fifth and sixth graders we might wind up with greater consensus.

    Re: Connecting the Dots: 9/11, Iraq, New Orleans (none / 0) (#2)
    by Darryl Pearce on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:11 PM EST
    Hey! There are still people out there who think Jefferson Davis is a hero. I'm not holding out much help.

    Re: Connecting the Dots: 9/11, Iraq, New Orleans (none / 0) (#4)
    by john horse on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:11 PM EST
    People like Frank Rich expect too much from this administration. Just like in Iraq, we need to lower our expectations. That way you'll never be disappointed by his performance (sarcasm alert!).

    Re: Connecting the Dots: 9/11, Iraq, New Orleans (none / 0) (#5)
    by nolo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:11 PM EST
    OT, but Justice Rehnquist died last night.

    Re: Connecting the Dots: 9/11, Iraq, New Orleans (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:11 PM EST
    As you know, it is not the government's role to be helping every Tom, Dick and Harry who finds himself in trouble. (The government helps corporations and industries.) Still, George W. Bush, our compassionate President, couldn't just stand by and watch those poor folks in New Orleans die because of hunger and dehydration. So within a week, he made sure every man, woman and child had food, a bottle of water and a blanket. Mission Accomplished, I say. But it doesn't end there. I overheard Laura Bush and the President discussing what more they could personally do to help. "George," Laura said. "I've got an idea." "That sounds dangerous," the President said with a chuckle. "I'm serious George. We've got that big, old ranch in Crawford sitting empty with all them rooms, each of which could hold a family. And we've got all those acres where evacuees could set up tents and huts for a while." "Are you nuts?" George exclaimed. "That's the Western White House. I do business there. That's where I clear brush and ride my bicycle." "George, we're not going to be using the ranch again until Thanksgiving. Doesn't it make sense for us to make a personal sacrifice for those poor wretched folks who are all stuck in the Astrodome?" "But we've got some good dishes at the Ranch. And that plasma TV, it's brand new. Them New Orleans folks ain't familiar with finer things. They might break something." "George, the Lord's been good to you. He made you rich even though you'd never done a day's work in your life. He made you popular even though nothing seems to have gone right since you became president. I think the Lord expects you to return the favor by being charitable." "I suppose I could allow a few of the good ones to stay at the ranch a while, after thorough security checks naturally. And we'll need some monitors there to make sure the silverware doesn't go off for a walk. Hmmmm. How about I ask Condi and Colin if they'd mind living at the ranch for a month or so, just to keep an eye on things." "George, you've got a good heart."

    Re: Connecting the Dots: 9/11, Iraq, New Orleans (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:12 PM EST
    Look people, bush knew that this may or may not happen a week before it did. just be happy it didn't happen to you. just make sure it never happens in the future, because the future is were you will be living.

    Re: Connecting the Dots: 9/11, Iraq, New Orleans (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:12 PM EST
    Nancy Jo Liked your post, but you sure about Condi staying at the ranch? I don't think Crawford has any stores selling $1000.00 shoes.

    Re: Connecting the Dots: 9/11, Iraq, New Orleans (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:18 PM EST
    Next, the Bush administration is going to say "We didn't know about global warming."