Friday, September 02, 2005

Where's the Government when you need 'em

All jokes aside, this headline is from today's New York Times: Storm Overwhelms Government’s Preparations.

No shit.

We've all seen the images of people, mostly black and mostly poor, suffering. It's been five days and still folks have inadequate food and water supplies. Medical attention is not reaching many who need it desperately. It's clear our government officials were not prepared--nor are they at this very moment doing an adequate job.


We are not unprepared because our leaders are bad people. And it's not because we are spending so much money on Iraq and foreign affairs, which many would have you believe. It's simply that protecting poor people, and in this case protecting poor black people, does not register on the government's list of priorities.

By now I'm sure you have all seen the picture of President Bush twiddling with a guitar juxtaposed with the picture of people suffering in New Orleans (check out if you haven't). The President is clearly not a bad man; the smile on his face as he plucks those strings is almost cherubic. The fact is the people suffering in New Orleans simply don't exist for this man; they are as far from him as dying folks in Africa (or dying soldiers in Iraq if you believe Cindy Sherman). And because nobody near the President thought to say "Hey, maybe we should postpone the whole country band jamboree" it's safe to say that the fates of the dying are far from many people in our administration.

Sadly, this disaster is a microcosm for our country. A few days ago John Stewart of the Daily Show reported that, in speaking about Cindy Sherman, President Bush said that he feels compassion for her but that he has to get on with his life. His words: "I have to get on with my life." A lot of people are criticizing the President for this remark and others like it. Truthfully, I am warming to our President; unlike many, many others, he does not have ability to lie well--and when he speaks, even blunderingly, you know exactly what he means. He says he must get on with his life; this is no lie. He means it. So do many of us--and the officials who govern us. Unfortunately for poor people and grieving mothers, getting on with our lives means giving up theirs.


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