And that's what I've come to talk with you about today. The incompetence of Katrina's response is not reserved to a hurricane. There's an enormous gap between Americans' daily expectations and government's daily performance. And the gap is growing between the enduring strength of the American people - their values, their spirit, their imagination, their ingenuity, and their willingness to serve and sacrifice - and the shocking weakness of the American government in contending with our country's urgent challenges. On the Gulf Coast during the last two weeks, the depth and breadth of that gap has been exposed for all to see and we have to address it now before it is obscured again by hurricane force spin and deception.
Katrina stripped away any image of competence and exposed to all the true heart and nature of this administration. The truth is that for four and a half years, real life choices have been replaced by ideological agenda, substance replaced by spin, governance second place always to politics. Yes, they can run a good campaign - I can attest to that - but America needs more than a campaign. If 12 year-old Boy Scouts can be prepared, Americans have a right to expect the same from their 59 year-old President of the United States.
Katrina reminds us that too often the political contests of our time have been described like football games with color commentary: one team of consultants against another, red states against blue states, Democratic money against Republican money; a contest of height versus hair - sometimes. But the truth is democracy is not a game; we are living precious time each day in a different America than the one we can inhabit if we make different choices.
We wouldn't be hearing that sound if the people in Washington running our government had cared to listen in the past.
They didn't listen to the Army Corps of Engineers when they insisted the levees be reinforced.
They didn't listen to the countless experts who warned this exact disaster scenario would happen.
They didn't listen to years of urgent pleading by Louisianans about the consequences of wetlands erosion in the region, which exposed New Orleans and surrounding parishes to ever-greater wind damage and flooding in a hurricane.
They didn't listen when a disaster simulation just last year showed that hundreds of thousands of people would be trapped and have no way to evacuate New Orleans.
They didn't listen to those of us who have long argued that our insane dependence on oil as our principle energy source, and our refusal to invest in more efficient engines, left us one big supply disruption away from skyrocketing gas prices that would ravage family pocketbooks, stall our economy, bankrupt airlines, and leave us even more dependent on foreign countries with deep pockets of petroleum.
They didn't listen when Katrina approached the Gulf and every newspaper in America warned this could be "The Big One" that Louisianans had long dreaded. They didn't even abandon their vacations.
And the rush now to camouflage their misjudgments and inaction with money doesn't mean they are suddenly listening. It's still politics as usual. The plan they're designing for the Gulf Coast turns the region into a vast laboratory for right wing ideological experiments. They're already talking about private school vouchers, abandonment of environmental regulations, abolition of wage standards, subsidies for big industries - and believe it or not yet another big round of tax cuts for the wealthiest among us!
The administration is recycling all their failed policies and shipping them to Louisiana. After four years of ideological excess, these Washington Republicans have a bad hangover - and they can't think of anything to offer the Gulf Coast but the hair of the dog that bit them.
And amazingly - or perhaps not given who we're dealing with - this massive reconstruction project will be overseen not by a team of experienced city planners or developers, but according to the New York Times, by the Chief of Politics in the White House and Republican Party, none other than Karl Rove - barring of course that he is indicted for "outing" an undercover CIA intelligence officer.
Katrina is a symbol of all this administration does and doesn't do. Michael Brown - or Brownie as the President so famously thanked him for doing a heck of a job - Brownie is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq; what George Tenet is to slam dunk intelligence; what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad; what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy; what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning; what Tom Delay is to ethics; and what George Bush is to "Mission Accomplished" and "Wanted Dead or Alive." The bottom line is simple: The "we'll do whatever it takes" administration doesn't have what it takes to get the job done.
Theres more....go to Truthout to read the rest.