After what clearly seems to have been a hesitant, stammering start, the federal government is in the Katrina destruction zone in force, including New Orleans, where people were not only killed by the flood but, inexcusably, also killed by the wait for help that was delayed by incompetence or red tape or ignorance of the dire need.
It certainly is true that the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana were basket case incompetents last week. But it's also safe to say the feds didn't hurry fast enough.
I have supported President Bush in many of his initiatives, but like many other people I notice he has one particular failing which is hurting him now, and that is loyalty to his team to a fault.
The president has to add two well-known words in the English language to his vocabulary: "You're fired."
He needs to say "You're fired" to at least one and maybe more of the bureaucrats who punted this one.
One possible candidate might be Michael Brown (search), director of FEMA.
Why? Because Brown personified the disconnected, detached, bureaucratic approach by the feds in the early going.
It was Brown who evidently didn't take the trouble to keep the TV on in his office, where he could have seen what was going on in New Orleans. It was Brown who didn't know what the rest of the world knew — that people were dying of dehydration and even murder in a rescue and evacuation center, the New Orleans convention center.
During the '92 L.A. riots, the LAPD didn't have TV sets in station houses and didn't know what the rest of the city was seeing on live television: the city in flames, Reginald Denny (search) getting his head bashed in. You name it, the cops didn't know it because they didn't have TVs.
This was not the time for the president to say, "Brown, you're doing a heck of a job."
He may have been doing a textbook heck of a job, but he gave the Bush administration a serious black eye.
Face it, if it's not Brown, it has to be someone. You can't have Americans dying after they get to a rescue center without somebody getting fired. That's the bare minimum.
That's My Word.
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