Joe ScarboroughWe Deserve Answers, Mr. President
We deserve answers, Mr. President (Joe Scarborough)
As one who has seen these hurricanes up close as a Gulf Coast resident, news reporter and member of Congress — where I got a behind the scenes look at how to run relief operations — I have been trying to connect the dots for those of you who have not been so intimately involved in hurricane recovery efforts.
With so many trying to figure out why so few acted professionally in the first days of this epic crisis, I offer an insider's view of who is to blame for this national disgrace.
We begin with Harry Truman who famously declared that the buck always stops at the president's desk. For those who now define the term conservative as unwavering support for George W. Bush, even this suggestion is maddening.
But the bottom line is that despite the fact the president was strapped with two governors who bungled this crisis badly, in the end it is the president who sends in the National Guard and FEMA relief.
The president's suggestion that the size of this storm caught all by surprise just doesn't get it. His administration was 48 hours late sending in the National Guard and poor Americans got raped and killed because of those mistakes.
A painful assessment from a supporter of the president, but also true.
Secondly, the first responders in any hurricane are local and state officials. When Florida was struck by four hurricanes last year, Governor Jeb Bush was nothing short of spectacular. Louisiana Governor Blanco was breathtakingly clueless as were other Louisiana officials. The deaths of many lay on their doorsteps.
FEMA’s Michael Brown also shoulders the burden for the suffering in New Orleans. His claim that no one knew of the suffering on the ground until Thursday defies logic. America knew the crescent city was drifting toward chaos on well before Tuesday. Why didn't the man in charge of disaster relief know the same thing?
One state over, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour continues to claim that Katrina caught him by surprise, telling one reporter that it was after all a cat one storm after crossing Florida. That useless fact doesn't erase the fact that the entire Gulf Coast was put on alert as early as Friday that this storm would be historic.
If Barbour thought Katrina would be little more than a category one storm, then he is not to be trusted organizing his sock drawer — let alone the most tragic natural disaster to ever hit his state.
As for those politicians hell-bent on claiming all went well over the past week, don't waste your breath. People died in New Orleans because of incompetence. Not because of racism, or poverty, or any other social ill. They died because the political leaders we elected were not up to the task of protecting the innocent from the most savage among us and from dehydration, starvation and heat exhaustion. Deaths, that I learned from the Terri Schiavo death-watch, are most painful to endure.
Mr. President, Governor Blanco and Governor Barbour, all is not well with your relief teams. We deserve answers sooner rather than later.