Still Clueless in Crawford, Witless in Washington

You’ve probably heard of the ubiquitous, ‘The guy’ in the story, who on being asked, “Does the Sun rise in the East or the West?”, replies, “Don’t know…I’m still new to town”.

I’m pleased to tell you the ‘The guy’ now has an identity.

He gave himself away (once more?) when he told Diane Sawyer, “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.”

Thus was revealed another instance of the cluelessness of an administration whose response to each failure is to first Deny, then Lie. Predictably, the White House has since been unsparing in its effort in deflecting and nudging the blame toward the state and city officials.

If anything, the truth is that Nature spared New Orleans its worst. Hurricane Katrina, first feared to be making a beeline for the city, instead made for the Gulf Coast (incidentally Bush, as he commiserated with the newest Katrina victim — one Trent Lott — made it sound more like “Golf Course”).

Contrary to the ex post facto justification by the administration that the levees were designed for a Category 3 while the storm was a 4, Katrina (see table below) was actually a Category 3 when it made landfall along the Gulf Coast. In any case, all this begs the question, why did it take so long to repair the levees?

The administration’s strategy, once again, is to deploy verbal trickery without delay (and with DeLay). To avoid this trap, one must never forget that it was not the hurricane that killed the 10000 people. It was the flood. Even conceding the former was not preventable (keeping aside the long-term effects of global warming), there can be no doubt the latter was wholly avoidable and totally caused by (the) Man, or, if you prefer, The Guy.

By starving the levee reinforcement projects, not responding with a massive intervention once the levees broke (see table below for what Bush was doing, after news of the levee breach), not providing relief after the flooding, President Bush has to take the major responsibility for this devastation.

In fact, 9-11 and Katrina form an apt pair of parentheses to the annals of an administration that is a unique combination of incompetence and flippancy:

Are our President learning? Question New York
Sep 11, 2001 New Orleans
Aug 29-30, 2005 Were there warnings?

/>Niranjan Ramakrishnan is a writer living on the West Coast.  His book, “Reading Gandhi In the Twenty-First Century” was published last year by Palgrave.  He may be reached at