Bush, God and Katrina

In literature, God has sent warnings. In Moby Dick, Herman Melville’s sea saga, Captain Ahab refused to recognize God’s limits. The white whale (God’s creature?) warns Ahab in a first encounter by chewing off the captain’s leg. Instead of respecting this admonition, the commander of the commercial whaling vessel sought revenge ­ domination over nature, in the form of a large animal. Ahab moved decisively to assert domination over the natural order.

In Life, George Bush froze ­ unscripted-when world-shaking issues fell onto his morally weak shoulders. Suffering and death confound him. Perhaps Barbara traumatized the seven year old W when little sister died of leukemia? The day after the funeral, the Bushes played a round of golf ­the proper set dealing with death. Barbara, according to Dr. Justin Frank, had trouble connecting emotionally with her son.

W’s father also played a role in W’s “character pathology: “emotional and physical absence during his son’s youth triggered feelings of both adoration and revenge.” The President suffers from “grandiosity” and megalomania.” He sees himself, America and God as interchangeable. Bush on the Couch 2004

Indeed, as US troops invaded Iraq, commerce secretary Don Evans said that “Bush believes he was called by God to lead the nation at this time.” (Judy Keen, USA Today, April 2, 2003) W’s spiritual adviser Rev. James Robison W said that Bush told him: ‘I feel like God wants me to run for President. I can’t explain it, but I sense my country is going to need me. Something is going to happen… I know it won’t be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it.’ The Observer, November 2, 2003,
On 9/11 something did happen. But W didn’t disentangle himself from the plot of My Pet Goat, which he continued to read to Florida second graders for seven minutes after aides told him a jet had flow into the Twin Towers. A day later he emerged from his daze. He didn’t appear at the scene of the tragedy until September 14.

Likewise, when Katrina struck, God apparently didn’t tell Bush to go to the tragedy site. The Pres remained on vacation, jogged and did fundraisers and other religious work. After five days, Bush finally visited the disaster site. Was anyone less qualified to “love thy neighbor as thyself?”
Unable to overcome his emotional learning disability, inability to grasp emotionally or intellectually the scope of the human tragedy, he posed for photo ops by hugging women and then joked about his drinking days in “N’Oleans.”

“Very funny,” said the diseased and half dead. Then Bush talked with sincerity about how Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) ­ a multi millionaire– had also lost a house. But he would replace it with “a fantastic house – and I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch.”

How better to humiliate the world’s most powerful nation then to saddle it with a Bush in the midst of a tragedy? How best to show limits to arrogant Americans then by placing in charge a bungler incapable of responding to other people’s pain?

After even the toady media recognized his incompetence, White House handlers scripted return visits to the disaster sites. But deep inside, W wanted to return to his Eden, Crawford, a place to enjoy riding bikes and jogging. His mother Barbara had, after all, reassured him ­ and the nation ­ that since “so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this-this [she emits a chuckle referring to government programs] is working very well for them.”

She saw the evacuation of people to Houston as an example of her boy’s successful administration. “What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we’re going to move to Houston” (Barbara Bush, after touring the devastated areas, NPR “Marketplace” September 5).

Bush had described himself as a leader and “leaders lead.” But God did not imbued W with take charge qualities. Bush doesn’t grasp difficult situations and therefore can’t see how to deal with them.
He looked down from Air Force One at the broken 17th Street levee through which water flooded New Orleans. Then W landed and spoke about the urgent need to control lawlessness, not suffering and death. He probably forgot Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s wisdom on looting. Rummy had ordered US troops not to crack down “on looting in Iraq because it might alienate the Iraqi people they are trying to win over.” Rumsfeld understood looting as part of a process. “U.S. forces should not be blamed for the lawlessness and looting in Baghdad as it is a natural consequence of the transition from a dictatorship to a free country” (UPI 4/11/03).

After his initial display of unconcern, Bush returned to Louisiana and toured with Senator Landrieu, who initially believed he was making “a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe.” But when she flew over the same “critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later” she realized it had been nothing more than “a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast deserve far better from their national government…” (Landrieu, September 3 press release)

As a religious man Bush knew that God created man and then woman. Intelligent design? But Bush did not understand God’s subsequent ambivalence toward his creations. After they committed their initial sin, from which of course they received knowledge and guile and got tossed out of Eden for their disobedience, they lacked a collective brain. So, Adam and Eve and their progeny began a long process of destroying His perfect environment. Think of the millennia in which He watched people systematically erode His sculpture.

With the industrial revolution, the attack on His intelligent design became downright ferocious. Assaults on thousands of His species, the ozone layers and the air, water and soil might well have offended even the most patient of gods. Massive green house gas emission altered the very framework of His opus.

Did God vindictively choose Bush to administer at times of great catastrophes? He knew that the Bush family chose its servants on the basis of loyalty. So He must have smiled smugly when Bush chose Michael Brown to run the Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA. Brown lost his previous position as head of the Arabian Horse Association by apparently not properly organizing horse shows. But for the Bushes, subservience was the perfect trait for servants. Bush picked him first as deputy director and then head of FEMA when the director resigned.
Brown shared Bush’s ignorance of suffering. After Katrina struck, Kate Hale, former Miami-Dade emergency management chief, said Brown had “done a hell of a job, because I’m not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm.”

Brown apparently didn’t understand that FEMA, his agency, was created to handle disasters. “The U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront,” said Senator Landrieu, “but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims-far more efficiently than buses-FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency.” (September 3, 2005, Landrieu press release)

Brown admitted to Paula Zahn that “The federal government did not even know about the convention center people until today.” (CNN, September 1, 2005).

“I think the other thing that really caught me by surprise,” he said, “was the fact that there were so many people, and I’m not laying blame, but either chose not to evacuate or could not evacuate. And as we began to do the evacuations from the Superdome, all of a sudden, literally thousands of other people started showing up in other places, and we were not prepared for that. We were, we were surprised by that.” While corpses floated in the waters that filled New Orleans, Brown patted himself on the back. “Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans – virtually a city that has been destroyed – things are going relatively well.” (CNN)

Critics of Bush’s handling of Katrina assume that citizens deserve efficiency and compassion from the federal government. But Bush’s response to catastrophe, judging from his behavior during the Katrina aftermath, appeared to be as punisher ­ of the poor, not the rich — not provider.

In 1785, Thomas Jefferson, reflected on slavery. “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just. His justice cannot sleep forever.” Was Jefferson’s God defining justice as sardonic revenge ­ not only by inflicting us with Katrina, but placing George W. Bush as chief administrator of its aftermath?

SAUL LANDAU is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.







We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the “Website”).

Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.

As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.

We are pleased to clarify the position.

August 17, 2005


SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.