We don’t know whether Karl Rove has had enough time to focus on the president’s prime-time speech from Louisiana tonight. Rove must be awfully busy with his new job — we’re not making this up — leading the White House’s post-Katrina reconstruction efforts.
But George W. Bush can rest easily this afternoon, even if many of his fellow citizens can’t. Americans have always been eager to help their president in times of need. And when we asked you earlier today to offer advice for Bush about what he might say tonight, you responded in a way that reminded us of all that is good in this great nation. The president says he’s ready to “take responsibility” for whatever the federal government did wrong in the wake of Katrina, and you’ve come through with a veritable flood of ideas about where he could begin.
Here’s the speech that War Room readers might write. Douglas O’Morain of Austin, Texas, gets us started, and then a list of would-be presidential advisors too long to mention fills in the blanks and connects the dots from there.
“My fellow Americans, while many people were at fault for our country’s poor response to Hurricane Katrina, I am the president, and the buck stops with me. In addition to being the commander in chief, I believe that the president has a moral obligation to protect the people to the best of his ability. And in this case, I did not perform for you as I did on September the 11th, 2001. While I believe that there are many reasons behind the debacle in New Orleans and elsewhere in the wake of the hurricane, I accept full responsibility for the failures of the federal government. I will not shirk from blame; I will not pass the buck.
“I take responsibility for not having shown concern about the people or the situation in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast until it became clear that it was a public relations disaster for my administration. I take responsibility for the fact that Katrina will go down as one of the 10 deadliest natural disasters in our nation’s history — and that the other nine all happened before helicopters were widely available for rescue missions.
“I take responsibility for packing FEMA, a federal agency America depends on in national emergencies, with political hacks with no real qualifications for doing life-and-death jobs. I take responsibility for not making geography skills a priority for FEMA. I take responsibility for the fact that, while fires blazed out of control in New Orleans, 600 firefighters were stuck in a FEMA seminar on customer service in Atlanta. I take responsibility for telling Brownie that he was ‘doing a heck of a job,’ when, in fact, he sucked.
“I take responsibility for not asking Dick Cheney to end his vacation sooner; for not asking Condoleezza Rice to end her shopping spree in New York sooner; for not asking Donald Rumsfeld to cut short his trip to the ballgame and mobilize soldiers for the relief effort. I take responsibility for sending large numbers of National Guard members from Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida to Iraq, making it impossible for them to act quickly to aid and protect their homeland.
“I take responsibility for allowing one of my senior administration officials to insinuate that that I ignored the delay in the deployment of federal troops because I didn’t want to seem like I was bullying some chick governor.
“I take responsibility for allowing the nation’s poverty rate to rise four years in a row. I take responsibility for the fiscal policies and war plans that have left our country unable to perform its primary duty of protecting its citizens without going into further debt. I take responsibility for failing to give the Army Corps of Engineers adequate funds to build and fortify levees in New Orleans. I take responsibility for consistently burying scientific evidence about global warming and other issues and paying people to reword scientific reports so that they line up with my way of thinking.
“I take responsibility for pretending to play guitar in California while New Orleans was flooding.
“I take responsibility for saying, ‘I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees,’ when practically anyone who lived in New Orleans for the past 100 years could have anticipated it. I take responsibility for countless phony uses of the word ‘folks’ instead of ‘people’ to convince as many knuckle draggers as possible that despite my massive wealth, Yale education and privilege I am really just as dumb and illiterate as they are.
“I take responsibility for the suffering that will follow from my decision — between photo-op hops to the safest sites in the battered Gulf Coast — to suspend the Davis-Bacon Act protections for laborers working to rebuild the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. I take responsibility for issuing ‘no-bid,’ ‘cost-plus’ contracts to those helping to rebuild hurricane damaged areas so my close personal friends and cronies can make millions taking advantage of the worst natural disaster in America’s history — just like they did in Iraq. I take responsibility for trying to further my political goals of allowing private/religious school vouchers, smashing unions, weakening environmental regulations and giving Halliburton a blank check during this time of great crisis.
“I take responsibility for having failed to say ‘I take responsibility’ for anything until it was politically expedient to do so. I take responsibility for being such an arrogant, cranky, vindictive twit that my loyal aides have to draw straws to see which unlucky one has to bring me a reality check. I take responsibility for putting myself in the position of being elected to the most powerful position in the world knowing full well that I have neither the experience, the imagination nor the human compassion that is a prerequisite for the job.”
“May God bless the good folks in this part of the world. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.”