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A Response to a Comment

Debbie left this comment and I wanted to respond to it because there are some important points here and it was too long to deal with as a series of comments.

I’m addressing what she said point by point. Her comments appear in blue.

Generally Agree BUT…Is it just about BLAME? Or is it also about finding where the problems occurred so you can fix them for next time. If you don’t search for where, who, why, then you have no opportunity to correct. You can say later it can be done, but if you want to fix NOW (also needed) then you have to find out where the problems are. Some people think when you say “Hey, this is not right…” you are complaining or whining. That is not necessarily the case. It has not been in all our history. Are you placing the blame/whining when you say slavery is not right? Are you placing the blame/whining when you say sexual harassment is not right?

Valid points. But there is a big difference from examining all aspects of the situation to look for who failed and why…and saying, “this whole thing happened because Bush was on vacation” or “this whole thing happened becuase Bush sent us to Iraq.” Either could played a part, in different ways, but neither could be the sole cause of the nightmarish manmade disaster that followed the natural one.

Some say that the whole problem is that FEMA’s focus shifted to terrorism. That would make sense if not for the fact that just last year, the agency conducted the Hurricane Pam exercise in New Orleans. Their focus may have shifted, but not to the exclusion of natural disaster preparedness.

Yet that faulty, one-sided foolishness is exactly the type of argument that prompted that entry to begin with.

Here’s the difference: people who want Bush’s head on a platter are only interested in looking for ways that Bush failed. People who are “blindly supportive of Bush” want to know why the Democrats in Louisiana failed.

There are lots of failures here, on both sides. I think that if we’re going to take a serious look at what went wrong with the goal of preventing this in the future, we have to do something that isn’t easy: we have to attack our own partiesand see how “we” failed as well as how “they” failed. And I read an awful lot of commentary that just isn’t willing to do that.

I could point out that when Hurricane Georges threatened New Orleans in 1998, 14,000 people ended up evacutating to the Superdome and ended up there for days with no supplies. I’d like to know why, in seven years, local authorities haven’t figured out a way to make sure they have something until federal assistance arrives. That same year, there was talk of using city buses to evacuate those who could not get out on their own. Seven years later, that plan still had not gone anywhere. And after seven years, there was still no formal plan on how to evacuate the Superdome itself if the city became uninhabitable.

There are Republicans who want you to believe that this is the whole story. But it isn’t. When Bush signed that declaration of emergency two days before the storm hit, it authorized FEMA to mobilize and get to those states to assist residents. He acted ahead of the storm…then and obviously only then. FEMA, for some reason, didn’t mobilize. Bush, obviously, didn’t follow up on FEMA’s progress, which doesn’t make an ounce of sense to me. How do you brace for a category four hurricane, get the cavalry ready to go, yell “Charge!” and then never look back to make sure that they actually went?

You tell me how one person can be to blame for all of that. Let’s drop the political pretense.

I’d like to know why each individual failure happened,and I’d like to know how to keep each individual failure from happening in the future. But when someone reduces the myriad failures down to Bush alone, that tells me that they’re looking for a scapegoat, not a solution. And that doesn’t help anyone.

I’m all for looking for facts, but opinions aren’t facts. The people who tend to want to blame Bush and Bush alone aren’t so much interested in facts as much as their own intense dislike for this one single person. We all know the difference when we see it, if we’re willing to open our eyes and think about what we’re reading.

Now, as to your single person idea. If something goes very wrong in a company, does the CEO come out & take the brunt of it & get fired if the company loses money or a crime is committed? Did he necessarily cause the loss/crime? Many times the ones who committed this infraction will get fired also, but you may “let go” the CEO. When the abuse occurred in Iraq what happened? The attackers were put on trial, but who got demoted??? I know you said specifically Bush is not the ONLY one to blame, but we do need to recognize that he is ultimately in control/power!

There’s just one problem with the CEO comparison: it fails to take into account that our government is set up with local, state and federal officials.

Here’s a counter-example for you: I once worked at a major conglomerate that owned more than a dozen television stations. The CEO of the conglomerate was like the president of the United States. Each station had a general manager. The general manager had department heads that reported to him.

When there was a problem with station WXXX in one city, it was the general manager of WXXX that had to deal with that problem, not the CEO of the conglomerate. If some major crisis befell WXXX and it was determined that the management of the station didn’t act effectively and their support systems within the conglomerate didn’t serve them like they should have, multiple heads will roll, to be sure. But the head rolling starts at the station with its management and moves up; it doesn’t start with the CEO’s head on a platter and move down. And I suspect that before the CEO gets the pink slip, one of his vice presidents in charge of something-or-other that was supposed to handle the crisis at WXXX gets hung out to dry first.

Remember…the CEO thing is your example, not mine. I’m just describing what I’ve seen happen at the one I worked for.

If America was a dictatorship, then I could certainly see blaming Bush and Bush alone for anything bad that happened. But if that truly made sense, why would we bother electing governors and mayors? There would be no need for them if the president were truly the one who made all of the decisions and had complete control of every single thing that happens in the country.

Let’s say that you have a problem with garbage delivery on your street. Do you call the White House? Do you call the governor’s mansion? No. You call your city hall. There’s a reason for that. Our country’s government is structured through many tiers, not a single one that puts one man ultimately in charge of every single thing.

And no matter how much a president wants to cut funding for one thing to boost funding for another, the last time I checked, Congress still had to approve that plan, right? The president doesn’t make such decisions by himself.

Our federal system is designed to give states their own power. FEMA is supposed to protect all of us, but they’re also supposed to assist local and state authorities, not do all of the work on their own.

You’re right: I have said that Bush is not without blame. I also continue to point out that just because he’s in power doesn’t mean we should pretend that blame cannot exist with anyone else as well.

I agree those who want to blame JUST him are not wise, BUT remember not all do critically think & know “systems” so compassion is needed for them just as you are asking for compassion of others for Bush.

Compassion for Bush? I’m not asking for compassion for Bush at all!! I’m asking for common sense. You’re right when you say that “not all do critically think and know ‘systems.’ What I’m asking for is that these people who aren’t thinking critically start!! Instead of blindly following their own political agenda and at the same time getting mad when people on the other side of the political spectrum are doing the same thing, it’s time everyone started thinking critically and looking at all sides of an issue.

What does political hatespeak accomplish? It further divides us, gets people angry, and causes people to disconnect from dialog that might otherwise be beneficial. It’s time that people check their party affiliation at the door and educate themselves about how the system actually works. They might be surprised by what they find!

(And there are plenty of Republicans and Democrats that aren’t thinking critically here.)

Now to say we are “not a kinder, gentler nation,” that we have not made progress in race relations I do not agree with. If you talk with many who are much older than “us” of how life was like when they were younger, when we were not born yet, you would see it is MUCH different. Is there still MUCH work to be done…SURE! It is not perfect & probably never will be.I watch my nieces with their playmates, see parents with other parents & children of different races & you know the interactions would be Soooo much different when my grandparents & great-grandparents grew up! You may be just viewing all the negative situations yourself & not seeing all the lovely positive examples of race relations!

Fair enough. I don’t think we haven’t made progress. But I do think that all too often we delude ourselves into thinking that we’ve made more progress than we really have. And more importantly, we delude ourselves into thinking that we’ve pushed all of the frustrations and hate out of our minds. When this kind of situation occurs, hearing those frustrations come to the surface is a shock to many people who have been operating under a false sense of racial and socio-economical equality. Things aren’t as good as we like to think they are.

Finally, Who is Eric? Just because one guy name Eric agrees, you are right? Heck, I’m sure we could find many named Eric who are Black, who do not agree with you. Use a stronger argument than that!

I am well aware of the fact that just because “one guy named Eric” agrees with me, I am not necessarily right. But then you must also know that your disagreement with me doesn’t automatically make me wrong, so that’s a moot point.

I think that I am right because I am willing to look at this situation objectively and acknowledge that while Bush definitely has a share of the blame, he is not the only one who does. That in itself is legions more than some people who operate solely on a blind hatred of Bush would be willing to admit.

I mentioned Eric at all because he makes what I consider to be an important point. Go back and read the last post…that point, in case you missed it, is in big bold letters.

I mention Eric’s race, after much consideration, because I want to make what I think is an equally-important point: it illustrates that this is not an “either/or” world.

Too many people approach life this way: if you’re a Republican, Bush can do no wrong; if you’re a Democrat, he can do no right. If you’re black, you must be poor; if you’re white, you must be rich. If you’re a white Republican, you must not care about black people. If you speak out against the president, you’re courageous. If you side with him, you’re blind to reality. And on and on and on….

But those are ridiculous assumptions to make.

You cannot take one aspect of a person and assume that his feelings must be shared by everyonewho shares that aspect with him. Kanye West says Bush doesn’t care about black people. Not all of the people who were too poor to leave New Orleans were black. But if there were white people among them, then race would seem not to be the obvious issue. Maybe, some say, Bush doesn’t care about poor people? At least that sweeping generalization better fits the makeup of the people in that footage…so we think. But what if there were people who had plenty of money, chose not to leave after miscalculating how bad things would get and ended up inside the convention center after having lost all of their material possessions? Are they poor if they still have plenty of money in the bank? Can Bush possibly know for sure that there are no people with an income above the poverty line in that crowd? If not, then the “poor” argument isn’t completely an honest one, either.

When a black man and a white man can have a rational discussion about race and its place in a situation, and can find agreement that while there are legitimate concerns, the way in which those concerns were raised was divisive, not helpful, that tells me that there is hope that we are capable of coming together to understand each other and share each other’s ideals. How can that be a bad thing?

Likewise, when a Democrat and a Republican can agree that neither side is perfect (because if one was, there would be no need for the other) and set aside those differences to look at the bigger picture and seek solutions that have nothing to do with party affiliation, I think only good can come from that.

Why? Because when you can’t separate race, religion, politics or any of the other countless things we can use to separate ourselves from your fellow citizens…when you can’t let go of your preconceived notions long enough to listen, you’ll never really hear any viewpoint but your own. (And Debbie, I don’t mean to imply that you aren’t interested in listening to other viewpoints.)

I think that finding that common ground is important. I wish everyone was willing to try.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.