Tuesday, September 06, 2005

When Bush Thought FEMA Worked

Pres. Bush has spent the last year submerging the Federal Emergency Management Agency within the Department of Homeland Security and easing it out of its role as a disaster-response, -prevention and -preparation organization. He's been forced to acknowledge today that the entire governmental response, including that of FEMA, to Katrina and the New Orleans flood, has been so bad that he wants an investigation of what went wrong. But Pres. Bush hasn't always been so critical of FEMA, nor of the federal government's ability to coordinate with state and local officials. But to hear him praise FEMA's excellence and value at disaster response, you have to go back to October 3, 2000, when he was discussing "the unexpected" with Vice President Al Gore and moderator Jim Lehrer. Some excerpts, via the Commission on Presidential Debates):

MODERATOR: New question. We've been talking about a lot of specific issues. It's often said that in the final analysis about 90% of being the President of the United States is dealing with the unexpected, not with issues that came up in the campaign. Vice President Gore, can you point to a decision, an action you have taken, that illustrates your ability to handle the unexpected, the crisis under fire?


MODERATOR: Governor Bush?

BUSH: I've been standing up to big business, Hollywood, big trial lawyers. Was -- the question about emergencies, wasn't it?

MODERATOR: It was about -- okay.

BUSH: You know, as governor, one of the things you have to deal with is catastrophe. I can remember the fires that swept Parker County, Texas. I remember the floods that swept our state. I remember going down to Del Rio, Texas. I have to pay the administration a compliment. James Lee Witt of FEMA has done a really good job of working with governors during times of crisis. But that's the time when you're tested not only -- it's the time to test your metal [sic], a time to test your heart when you see people whose lives have been turned upside down. It broke my heart to go to the flood scene in Del Rio where a fellow and his family got completely uprooted. The only thing I knew was to got aid as quickly as possible with state and federal help, and to put my arms around the man and his family and cry with them. That's what governors do. They are often on the front line of catastrophic situations.


GORE: First I want to compliment the governor on his response to those fires and floods in Texas. I accompanied James Lee Witt down to Texas when those fires broke out. And FEMA has been a major flagship project of our reinventing government efforts. And I agree, it works extremely well now.

But that was then. Pres. Bush should tell us what's changed.


Anonymous said...

Give Bush some credit--he's kept Hollywood out of New Orleans and Southern Mississippi for more than a week.


Anonymous said...

Hollywood was there before FEMA showed up.

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