September 9th, 2005
For the left, the aftermath of Katrina has proven to be a godsend. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen them this happy since Hugo Chavez hornswaggled Jimmy Carter into certifying his victory in a recall vote last year. There’s just something about communist thugs that brings a smile to the face of an American lefty and makes their hearts go pitter patter.
But even a victory by “The Laughing Goat” ( La Cabra que Ríe) couldn’t possibly gladden the hearts and warm the cockles of liberals like the prospect of celebrating…what? Well, there’s that drop in the President’s poll numbers. And then there’s…let’s see. Oh! Did I mention the drop in the President’s poll numbers?
Yes, these are heady days for our left wing friends. The fact that their celebrations are taking place as a direct result of the distress, suffering, anguish and death of tens of thousands of their fellow citizens seems to not be of much concern to our morally superior betters. In fact, it has emboldened them to advance every crack pot theory on race and class that has poisoned American politics for going on forty years. One could say the left is dancing on the graves of black people, celebrating the exploitation of a political opening brought about by the incompetence of relief efforts in the largely black neighborhoods of New Orleans. Except for one thing: most of those graves are empty at the moment because the future les habitants haven’t even been plucked from the floodwaters yet.
But why let a small detail like common decency spoil a good party? It’s Mardi Gras in September in the Big Easy and liberals are dancing the Cajun Reel with the thousands of grinning skeletons who very soon now will start filling up the temporary mortuaries set up to receive them. The fact that we will be denied the edifying television spectactle of watching the gruesome task of retrieving these corpses has now led to charges of a “cover-up” – as if focusing a camera on the bloated, blackened remains of our fellow citizens should be made into some kind of reality TV show. Kind of a Survivor meets The Great Race high concept production. Why, the syndication possibilities are staggering.
Consider the hue and cry that went up in the hours and days following September 11, 2001 about how we shouldn’t be showing images of the tortured souls as they jumped to their deaths from those doomed towers.Or the unbearable, constant replaying of the horrific scenes of destruction as the towers fell. The rationale at the time was that such appalling images would breed anger and hate. But the anger and hate that would be bred by showing the maggoty corpses left behind by a man-made disaster are perfectly alright – as long as that anger and hate is directed at George Bush. After all, from the left’s perspective, if you can’t use images of a rotting cadaver for the ultimate good of making George Bush look bad, why bother?
That’s all they have to live for, of course. That and the possibility that the American people will become so outraged at the President’s choice of Michael Brown to head up the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that they will rise up in their righteous anger and smite the Republicans a mortal blow at the polls next year. The elevation of horse show impressario Brown to the lofty perch of FEMA Director may have been an unconscionable and unfathomable act of stupidity on the part of the President. But so was having Ron Brown’s Commerce Department give technology transfer waivers to American companies so that the Chinese army could improve the accuracy of thier ICBMs (Clinton). Or selling arms for hostages (Reagan). Or putting price controls on crude oil (Carter). Or putting wage and price controls into place when inflation was at the “astronomical” rate of 4.7% (Nixon). Or supporting Cuban ex-pats in a doomed-from-the-start effort to take back their country from Castro (Kennedy).
All Presidents make huge mistakes. Some lead to economic distress. Others actually cost lives. At this moment, despite the left’s charges that Bush is insensitive, I doubt whether the President is getting much restful sleep these past few nights. If there is anything at all that the American people have sensed about this man on a personal level, it is a sense of a simple, faith-based compassion for his fellow citizens. Does he recognize personal responsibility in his disasterous choice of Michael Brown as FEMA Director? Firing the incompetent fool would be a good indication one way or another.
But giving Master Brown the heave-ho won’t satisfy the baying hounds at the President’s doorstep. The ghosts of New Orleans may indeed haunt Mr. Bush’s presidency from here on out if he doesn’t act soon to counter the impression that the Federal government isn’t on top of this relief effort. It isn’t enough to promise money and support for the half million displaced people whose lives have been shattered by the storm. This is a given in America. It’s doing what’s expected.
What the President needs to do is the unexpected. Americans will back a President after he makes a mistake only when he admits the error in public and asks for forgiveness. Reagan and Clinton both made monumental errors in their second terms and yet finished their times in office with the strong support and even affection of the American people because they recognized their mistakes, apologized for them, and moved on to bigger and better things.
Following Iran-Contra, Reagan negotiated the first real reductions in a class of nuclear weapons when he signed a treaty with the Soviets eliminating medium range missiles from Europe. And following Clinton’s apology for lying to the American people about “that woman,” and his subsequent impeachment, he seemed to gather new energies which allowed him to finish his term with approval ratings over 60%.
Clearly, this is a mea culpa moment for Bush. But whether his political enemies, who now have the upper hand, allow him the luxury of such a course of action is problematic. The left’s continued glee at having the President on the run will last only as long as the President stubbornly refuses to make things right with the American people.
Things went horribly wrong in New Orleans. And while the inexplicable gaffes of the disaster tag team of Blanc-o-Nagin will ultimately come to be seen as at least equally responsible for the tragedy, the American people want an acknowledgement of what they’ve seen with their own eyes and heard with their own ears; the people that the President dispatched to deal with the relief efforts failed miserably. They want the President to take ultimate responsibility for this and they want it done soon. Any delay will be seen as playing politics and that’s something the American people have no patience for right now.
Do the right thing, Mr. Bush. And do it now.
Respect for those that died and their familes does not mean "cover-up". But try explaining this to those big Democrats screaming cover-up. Sheeez....I hope they don't show any of this on our TV screens. Some folks may not know what has happened to their loved ones yet and this is NOT the way to find out.
Edited this in after 53 posts.
Why do some in the media demand to publish photos of dead people?
What would you do if you opened up your morning newspaper or turned on the local television news and found grisly photos of one of your parents, or a brother, sister, uncle, cousin or a close personal friend?
You would be outraged. And rightfully so.
But some of my colleagues in the mainstream media claim they can’t report properly the terrible aftermath of Hurricane Katrina unless the Federal Emergency Management Agency allows them to photograph dead bodies up close and personal.
Their claim came in response to FEMA’s refusal to allow journalists to accompany recovery teams searching for victims of the disaster.
"It's impossible for me to imagine how you report a story whose subject is death without allowing the public to see images of the subject of the story," said Larry Siems of the PEN American Center, according to a Reuters story.
Rebecca Daugherty of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press agreed with Siems, saying: “You cannot report on the disaster and give the public a realistic idea of how horrible it is if you don't see that there are bodies as well."
Siems and Daugherty are unnecessarily raising a question of common decency to the level of government censorship. Here are three reasons why it is not censorship:
First, the FEMA decision is irrelevant because pictures of dead bodies have already been televised and published. Shepherd Smith of FOX News, for example, did a moving piece last week on an elderly man who collapsed and died on one of the bridges on I-10 in New Orleans. His body was covered and we only saw it from a distance.
That is the way responsible journalism is done. I’ve been there as a newspaper editor making decisions about whether a particular photograph of a murder victim, the carnage created by a suicide bomber or the aftermath of a terrible car crash. If it is necessary to show bodies to convey a story, it should be done carefully and respectfully, not merely to shock and sicken.
But don’t just take my word for it that this is the traditional standard, listen to MSNBC’s Mark Effron: "Our role is to show reality. We are showing bodies but not in close-ups. Our correspondents and videographers have conveyed the sense of horror without close-ups."
Second, FEMA’s decision won’t prevent a single journalist from reporting the disaster fully and honestly. Even if many news organizations had not already published pictures and video of Katrina dead, journalists would now find numerous ways of getting around the FEMA decision. That’s what journalists are paid to do – to get the news no matter what kind of bureaucratic obstacles are placed in their way.
Let’s not forget that Hurricane Katrina is America’s worst-ever and most thoroughly covered natural disaster in our nation’s history. There are hundreds of reporters on the scene and there is no way the government could prevent their doing their work, short of putting up a police line around the entire Gulf region and throwing anybody with a press pass in the slammer.
Third, the uncompromising demand that journalists be allowed on those FEMA boats raises this question: What is the purpose of publishing grisly photos if not to shock? Is it merely to “sell more newspapers” or could it be the demand is just another scream from the “Blame Bush for Everything” crowd?
Denver Post tv critic Joanne Ostrow provides a hint about the ideological agenda at work in some quarters of the mainstream media:
"The cadavers tell a story; they are evidence in the debate in Washington: Why were there so many fatalities from a predicted natural disaster? Defenders of the administration warn against pointing fingers (former President George H.W. Bush disparages the 'blame game' and makes a face as if the idea smells as bad as New Orleans). Critics of the weak, delayed rescue efforts want answers."
But why are so many of these critics only demanding answers from Bush? When are these critics going to ask New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagins why he didn’t follow his own evacuation plan, which called for using the city’s 500+ school buses to evacuate the old, the sick and the poor who couldn’t evacuate on their own?
And when will the critics demand that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco explain why, according to The New York Times, she “balked at giving up control of the [National] Guard” so the Pentagon could send her the 40,000 combat troops she requested?
Good journalism means asking tough questions of all the politicians, not just those with a big R beside their name.
Edited by RuReddy1, 09 September 2005 - 11:54 PM.