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ISSUE 119 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/23/2005

National disaster lays Bush's failures bare

By Maura De Chant
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 23, 2005

In the classic children’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” it took the simple honesty of a child to point out that the emperor was actually naked. In the modern-day version, it took a hurricane named Katrina to reveal President Bush’s weaknesses and inefficiency.

Bush clearly likes to think of himself as the cowboy president, the Washington outsider who “gets things done” in an age of indecisive politicians.

That image has been crumbling lately, however, and in its place the country has found an insulated White House clinging to an imaginary world.

In this alternate reality, the impending civil war in Iraq is a minor mopping-up operation, Cindy Sheehan is an aberration, and gas prices do not reflect the state of the economy, which is doing just fine anyway.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, we do not live in that world. Although Bush’s approval rating has been dropping steadily over the summer, it hit an incredible low 46 percent last week, according to a CNN/Gallup poll.

Hoping to counteract those numbers, Bush last week accepted responsibility for the failures in the government’s response to Katrina, but neglected to apologize or to elaborate on how those errors would be corrected.

The president’s poll numbers are continuing to sink because America is sick of having a president who treats everything like a photo op. Being a leader means taking responsibility for the mistakes which happen on your watch, and the president of the United States should be expected to do no less.

Living up to the bare minimum requirements of your job description should not be a hot news item, Mr. President.

Like the people who played along when the emperor was naked, the American people simply did not accept that Bush did not live in our reality until recently.

The steady drone of bad news both here and abroad made America yearn for someone who would lead, but when we turned to Bush, he was gone fishing. Literally.

While gas prices rose and more and more soldiers died in Iraq, Bush was nowhere to be found. When the mother of a fallen soldier demanded an explanation, he went on a bike ride.

The president surrounds himself with people who are unwilling to tell him what is really happening, and he doesn’t seem to mind. The American people thought they had elected a leader, and instead got a whiny child who treats science like a dying vestige of liberalism and needs to take a five-week vacation when he doesn’t get his way.

Despite his falling poll numbers, Bush seems unable to change direction. Shortly after he accepted responsibility, The New York Times reported that a series of no-bid contracts had already been awarded for the reconstruction of New Orleans – to corporations with ties to the Bush family and to the Republican party. The president outlined a plan for rebuilding New Orleans, but paid no attention to how that plan would be funded.

Bush had an enormous opportunity to show the American people that he realized the fundamental problems plaguing his administration, but he squandered that chance.

Rather than truly examining the situation in the disaster area and determining the best course of action for himself, Bush left the hard decisions up to his friends and hoped that a simple apology would distract everyone else. The emperor may have had no clothes, but Bush has no plan.

Contriubting writer Junior Maura DeChant is a junior from West Bend, Wis. She majors in history and English.

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