Today’s lead editorial in the New York Times was brutally honest.
George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.
It would be some comfort to think that, as Mr. Bush cheerily announced, America “will be a stronger place” for enduring this crisis. Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won’t acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal.
The Washington Post’s LE wasn’t so in-your-face, but the editors made their point as well.
So far, the federal government’s immediate response to the destruction of one of the nation’s most historic cities does seem commensurate with the scale of the disaster.
This administration has consistently played down the possibility of environmental disaster, in Louisiana and everywhere else. The president’s most recent budgets have actually proposed reducing funding for flood prevention in the New Orleans area, and the administration has long ignored Louisiana politicians’ requests for more help in protecting their fragile coast, the destruction of which meant there was little to slow down the hurricane before it hit the city. It is inappropriate to “blame” anyone for a natural disaster. But given how frequently the impact of this one was predicted, and given the scale of the economic and human catastrophe that has resulted, it is certainly fair to ask questions about disaster preparations.