George W. Bush is in New Orleans today to deliver a clear and unmistakable message: Drop Dead.
Little in our history can match his administration’s astounding non-response to this excruciating human catastrophe.
Before Katrina, even Bush’s harshest critics might have found non-credible his leaving tens of thousands of American citizens to suffer and die in utterly gratuitous squalor, disease, hunger and thirst.
Taxpaying American citizens are dying in the heart of a great city because their government can’t be bothered to get them clean water. Or a bed. Or to a hospital.
The weather has been clear since Katrina passed. Bush commands the world’s most advanced armada of land, sea and airborne vehicles. The resources to save our brothers and sisters are readily available.
But we see our elders, black and white, sitting confused and in pain, dying of heat and thirst and utter neglect in clear, sunny weather while the President of the United States babbles aimlessly and the Secretary of State shops for shoes.
We see babies by the dozen dying of dehydration and hunger where there is no war and no storm, only incompetence and contempt.
Global warming caused this storm. And there are no secrets about the corruption and stupidity that weakened New Orleans’s earthen defenses and opened the floodgates.
The Bush junta slashed funds for levees, let the wetlands be drained, let the developers rape and pillage. It assaulted those who warned the city would be laid bare to the storms everyone knew would come.
But even from this unelected gang of thugs and thieves, the horrifying abandonment of New Orleans has taken things to a new level.
Amidst a dire crisis, American citizens put their trust in the government. They walked into the Superdome. And they were utterly, cynically abandoned. No food. No water. No emergency electricity. No organized evacuation. No cleaning of the bathrooms. No disinfectants for the hot, damp, stinking stadium. No provisions for fresh clothing. No medical care for the elderly. No formula for the babies. No sanitary facilities for pregnant women. No insulin for diabetics. No injections for the sick. No policing. No leadership. No airlift of doctors, nurses, EMTs, psychologists, medicinesÖ.nothing!
Only a big, empty vacuum, the ultimate symbol of an administration with absolutely nothing in its head or heart.
That the federal government has utterly failed in these lethal days is universally obvious.
Is it because so many of these people are black and poor? Is it because Bush has successfully stolen a second term and just doesn’t care? Is it because this gouged and battered organization that was once our government has been so thoroughly exhausted by war and corruption that it cannot or will not manage so basic a task as bringing the necessities of life to its needlessly dying citizens?
Fox News and macho fools like Haley Barbour, the corrupt and inept Republican governor of Mississippi, will rant endlessly about a few looters and the shot that may or may not have been fired at rescue helicopters. We will see endless footage of the African- American family arrested for “stealing” a car so they could escape and live.
But to hear of dead bodies being stacked outside a professional football stadium to avoid further stench where ten thousand Americans can’t get water, food or sanitary facilities.To see dazed elders who’ve just lost their homes or hospital rooms being laid on sidewalks to die. To watch crying children stretched out on the ground, separated from their parents, dehydrated, overheated, starving….this is too much to bear.
How utterly can our nation have failed? How totally bankrupt can we be?
As we mourn our most colorful city, the home of our truest American music, and of so much gorgeous history and culture.we are heartsick and disgraced.
These global-warmed hurricanes will be coming again and again.
And with this ghastly Bush crew, soul-killing scenes like these will define our nation.
HARVEY WASSERMAN is co-author, with Bob Fitrakis, of How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008, and author of HARVEY WASSERMAN’s History of the U.S.