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Friday, September 02, 2005

Failure of Leadership

Watching the president the other night talk about a "temporary disruption," it became clear to me that he has no context in which to understand the depth of the human tragedy that occurred in Louisiana and Mississippi, nor any idea what to do about it. Remember, his comments were many days after the event and seemed to relate more to the price of gas that saving lives.

We are witnessing incompetence of the highest order of magnitude. A true leader would have declared a national emergency, requisitioned boats, busses, trains (except that he has gutted Amtrak -- but I suppose boxcars would have worked, too -- trucks, whatever, to haul supplies down there and bring people out on the way back. If the news media can move through town, then rescue workers ought to be able to also. Had the president acted quickly and decisively, the frustrations that lead to looting would have been greatly reduced.

When I hear about workers unable to communicate with each other because cell phones don't work and telephones are inoperable, my jaw drops. We have an extensive network of amateur radio operators who specialize in providing services in just this kind of emergency. Why weren't they mobilized by the president. How about military communications; surely they don't rely on cell phones to move troops around a battlefield. Why were the military's communications skills employed? No one appears to be in charge.

I could have personally driven to Louisiana and back from Illinois three times in the time it took for the president to realize even that we have a "temporary disruption." Surely, Mr. President, you can't be that callous and indifferent. If this were Law and Order, you would have been charged with depraved indifference.

It's also time to promote conservation, if only temporarily. Why don't we have some public statements about driving less on Labor Day to relieve pressure on supplies, even if they are temporary? Another failure to provide moral leadership, or, at worst, a complete lack of understanding.

If this had happened to Crawford Texas, you can bet the response would have been different. God forbid anything should prevent Bush from getting to his vacation spot.

The failure of leadership that has become so apparent is appalling.

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