Bush drops ball on Katrina

On August 29th, 2005 Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Among all the cities that were ravaged by Katrina, New Orleans suffered the most devastation. During the past two weeks, images of Katrina’s aftermath bombarded all aspects of media.

With the death toll rising to nearly 2,500, there is one question that everyone seems to be asking. Why did it take so long to get aid to these people? Where was the federal government in this time of crisis?

President Bush has been criticized for his slow response to Hurricane Katrina and continues to receive criticism over his decision to send more troops to the devastated area. The troops are being sent to restore order in the area by cracking down on looting and controlling the level of violence. Instead of arresting innocent people who are just trying to live, police forces should be evacuating the people out of the desolate region. What would you expect from a group of forgotten people left to fend for themselves after a major hurricane destroyed their homes, but most importantly, their lives? These people have been trapped in a dying city with no food, no water, and no hope. Each day that the federal government delayed in its relief efforts, innocent lives were lost.

Many people have been playing the blame game in order to come up with some answer as to why it took so long to send aid to the Gulf Coast. An important issue that has surfaced recently is the issue of state’s rights. According to United States law, the state’s governor is supposed to request the National Guard before the president interjects.

However, Hurricane Katrina was not a simple storm. Katrina destroyed an entire city. This is a time of national crisis, not a time for people to be worried about boundaries.

It seems that President Bush is using this issue as a tool to place blame on the governor and shift the focus away from himself. In the meantime, while the federal government and the governor are up in arms, thousands of lives are hanging in the balance.

Dr. Roderick Bush, a Sociology Professor at St John’s, noted that “The total miscalculation of this tragedy makes them [the Bush administration] look bad. You have rival countries such as Cuba and Venezuela, offering to provide assistance. These offers must be embarrassing to the United States. He flubbed us and he did not take the proper attitude toward the situation”.

It is puzzling that the United States is not accepting aid from Cuba. Fidel Castro stated that he would send 1,500 doctors and tons of medicine and supplies. Forty-eight hours after the offer was made, there was no U.S. response. Three days later, he offered assistance again, and still, no response was given. Why would the president refuse aid?

If this is about saving face, this is not the time. Not while people are still dying from disease.

With all the facts that have been presented, it is evident that the President is in a tight spot. The President is at major fault, not only in the eyes of the United States, but of the world. However, the mistakes have been made; the lives have already been lost. The only thing to do now is hope that the President, amid all this criticism, starts making decisions that will put the needs of the victims first and leave his own agendas for a more appropriate time.