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ISSUE 119 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 9/30/2005

Bashing misguided

By Linnea Bjerknes
Graphic Editor

Friday, September 30, 2005

Last week the Manitou Messenger ran two articles criticizing President Bush and his handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The main claims against Bush were that he was slow to respond to the disaster and that those below the poverty line, or African-American, were the least of Bush's worries. These claims, however, lack credibility.

First, Kanye West's claim ("President Bush doesn't care about black people!") was disputed from the time the comment left the musician's mouth. To the writer's credit, this fact was mentioned in passing, but not actually explained.

What some readers may not realize is that when West made his statement, everyone around him was floored. The author of the article also claims that Bush's response was "morbidly tragic and inept," but it may be more efficient to discuss this issue further as it pertains to the second article criticizing federal disaster relief efforts.

The writer of the second article critical of Bush attempted to use an analogy using the children's story "The Emperor's New Clothes" in which President Bush was likened to the emperor and Hurricane Katrina to the boy who saw and pointed out his invisible birthday suit.

The author claimed that the Katrina disaster revealed Bush as an inadequate leader, especially in times of trouble.

If we are going to use such an analogy, however, we must apply it to all parts of the issue, not just those we want to.

Sure, President Bush's response wasn't perfect, and he admitted so himself, but he wasn't the only one at fault.

What about the local and state government? Is it the president's job to make sure every city and state in the country has an adequate evacuation plan? I think not. That's why we have local, state and federal government.

Our government is made up of a hierarchy wherein city officials report to county officials, county officials to state officials, and state officials to federal officials. Before Hurricane Katrina actually hit, Bush declared Louisiana a disaster area for the specific purpose of allowing Louisiana's governor to call in adequate assistance before the disaster took place.

Simply put, the president set the cards on the table for Louisiana officials to play. Unfortunately, local evacuation and relief plans set down prior to the disaster were inadequate, and city and state officials proved unworthy of the task at hand.

For instance, after riding out the storm, the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, selfishly evacuated himself and other governmental officials using arrangements meant to evacuate those more needy than him.

Also, the morning of the hurricane, both city and state officials were claiming to have "dodged a bullet," and Gov. Kathleen Blanco even went as far as to send some of her National Guard troops to Mississippi. Of course, later that day her move turned out to be a grave mistake. Shortly thereafter, the govenor seemed to disappear from media coverage.

Comparatively speaking, I'd say that President Bush didn't mess up as badly as some others did, especially when it comes to public image. When it comes down to it, we should be spending more time looking for ways to help rather than bashing Bush's shortcomings repeatedly into the ground.

Graphics editor Linnea Bjerknes is a senior from Eden Prairie, Minn. She majors in art and art history.

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