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Friday, January 26, 2007

So now it's official

The other night, President Bush made his State of the Union address to a joint session of congress. The Constitution requires the president to give this annual report to congress. Although it does not specify that it must be in the form of a speech, since the advent of mass communications, presidents have been taking advantage of the occasion to look and act like leaders. The Current Occupant is no exception.

But before I offer my comments on the president’s recent speech, let me first remind everyone of what the president said in the past. President Bush gave a nationally televised speech from New Orleans back on September 15, 2005. Not that long ago when you think about it.

Here’s some of what he said and pledged back then:

“Tonight so many victims of the hurricane and the flood are far from home and friends and familiar things. You need to know that our whole nation cares about you, and in the journey ahead you're not alone…

“And tonight I also offer this pledge of the American people: Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives. And all who question the future of the Crescent City need to know there is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again…

“In the task of recovery and rebuilding, some of the hardest work is still ahead, and it will require the creative skill and generosity of a united country…

“And the federal government will undertake a close partnership with the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, the city of New Orleans, and other Gulf Coast cities, so they can rebuild in a sensible, well-planned way. Federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone, from roads and bridges to schools and water systems. Our goal is to get the work done quickly…

“When one resident of this city who lost his home was asked by a reporter if he would relocate, he said, "Naw, I will rebuild -- but I will build higher." That is our vision for the future, in this city and beyond: We'll not just rebuild, we'll build higher and better…

“In the long run, the New Orleans area has a particular challenge, because much of the city lies below sea level. The people who call it home need to have reassurance that their lives will be safer in the years to come. Protecting a city that sits lower than the water around it is not easy, but it can, and has been done. City and parish officials in New Orleans, and state officials in Louisiana will have a large part in the engineering decisions to come. And the Army Corps of Engineers will work at their side to make the flood protection system stronger than it has ever been…

“The work that has begun in the Gulf Coast region will be one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen. When that job is done, all Americans will have something to be very proud of -- and all Americans are needed in this common effort…

“The government of this nation will do its part, as well. Our cities must have clear and up-to-date plans for responding to natural disasters, and disease outbreaks, or a terrorist attack, for evacuating large numbers of people in an emergency, and for providing the food and water and security they would need…

“In the life of this nation, we have often been reminded that nature is an awesome force, and that all life is fragile. We're the heirs of men and women who lived through those first terrible winters at Jamestown and Plymouth, who rebuilt Chicago after a great fire, and San Francisco after a great earthquake, who reclaimed the prairie from the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Every time, the people of this land have come back from fire, flood, and storm to build anew -- and to build better than what we had before. Americans have never left our destiny to the whims of nature -- and we will not start now.

“And here in New Orleans, the street cars will once again rumble down St. Charles, and the passionate soul of a great city will return…”


Those were encouraging, almost visionary words President Bush spoke from Jackson Square. I was still evacuated in Virginia that night, and I daresay that speech was perhaps the most heartening thing I’d heard since the hurricane hit.

And now, 17 months later, with tens of thousands of us still “far from home and friends and familiar things,” what does the president have to say about the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast and New Orleans? Click on the link to hear:

President Bush on the topic of New Orleans, State of the Union Address, January 23, 2007.

Okay, so now it’s official: we’re on our own. I guess I should have known better than to take President Bush at his word when he pledged on national TV, “we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes.”

I guess I should have known better than to actually take a politician at his word.

So looking at the big picture, perhaps it’s better that the president did NOT say anything about New Orleans. It would have been all lies anyway.

5 comment(s):

Amen.

By Blogger Laurie, at 1/27/2007 11:44 AM  

Politicians are like sweethearts. When what they say doesn't jive with what they do, we just gotta accept that what they said was a lie and know them from their actions. It sucks. A lot. I love the link to the big fat nothing. Excellent post, Tim.

Word verification (seems to fit somehow): "fkzzvmo"

By Anonymous Sophmom, at 1/28/2007 10:58 AM  

And Amen again.

By Blogger judyb, at 1/29/2007 12:08 PM  

I do appreciate in the runup to Bush's address that Anderson Cooper wondered aloud if N'Orleans would be mentioned. And he said it like someone who'd lived there.

By Anonymous Jame, at 1/30/2007 7:19 PM  

NPR asked him about it and his comments are interesting. Very defensive, like he's tired of the whole deal. Link:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7065633

By Blogger Ralph Ott, at 1/31/2007 4:51 AM  

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