NY Times: Waiting for a Leader

George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.

We will, of course, endure, and the city of New Orleans must come back. But looking at the pictures on television yesterday of a place abandoned to the forces of flood, fire and looting, it was hard not to wonder exactly how that is going to come to pass. Right now, hundreds of thousands of American refugees need our national concern and care. Thousands of people still need to be rescued from imminent peril. Public health threats must be controlled in New Orleans and throughout southern Mississippi. Drivers must be given confidence that gasoline will be available, and profiteering must be brought under control at a moment when television has been showing long lines at some pumps and spot prices approaching $4 a gallon have been reported.

Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president’s demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.

While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast’s most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans’s levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane’s surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area’s flood protection?

It would be some comfort to think that, as Mr. Bush cheerily announced, America “will be a stronger place” for enduring this crisis. Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won’t acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal.

Leadership will have to wait until 2008, I’m afraid.

They just got their freedom! Looting is natural. Let them get it out of their system.

I watched his speech the other day and I remember thinking to myself, “My God, there’s his smirk… I can’t believe his smirk is there giving this speech.” I remember after 9/11, Bush was actually almost crying as he spoke to the nation. I thought it was touching to see genuine human emotion from our president. His speech yesterday felt almost like a fratboy blowing off a midterm.

Is it common for the NY Times to print reader editorials without putting a name on it? I can’t find an author’s name in there anywhere.

That’s not a reader editorial. You’re probably looking at the little sidebar with a link to the forums. No major paper, I can think of, puts names on their own in-house editorials.

I can’t say I share your optimistic assessment. You actually expect one of the two money parties will give us a leader, or that people will be dumb enough to actually elect one?

Maybe what we need to do is for people to stop expecting the government to solve all of their problems for them? Pray to your God of Government, folks!

[size=2]And as for “dumb enough,” I meant what I said and I said what I meant.[/size]

You’re right, by gosh, folks should have figured out they were in trouble before hand and might need to organize a way to get out of this. Indeed, they could have collected money and given it to trusted leaders that could invest in the kinds of large scale projects that might have averted catastrophe or laid plans for relief it the worst occured. Dare I say it, perhaps this giving of money could have a special name? Let’s call it a tax. And this grouping of trusted elders? Well, we don’t trust government but the name does seem to fit so why not?

And we’d have to select these elders in such a way they’d be held accountable to the people for their actions. Now, it’s possible some might lie or distort their intentions or that the people might not be well enough informed to decide who to trust or what issues are most important. Let’s us have another group that would have no other business but keeping an eye on the elders and informing the people. We could call them the press or the media, I suppose, but those names would be an insult to the kinds of sturdy souls we’d be dependant on for the truth about so many issues.

Oh, if only we could rely on ourselves instead of government. How much better off we’d be. I submit this humble proposal for your consideration.

+2, Funny, Insightful.

call me a communist, but “city fucking wiped out” is a problem i expect the government to handle.

Really? I can’t think of any Swedish newspaper that doesn’t put names on their editorials, regardless if it’s a staff writer or a freelancing columnist.

Actually, the main “Ledare” does not usually print a name, at least not in DN.

Welcome to the party comrade!

Not entirely joking here either. Even the most on the Right person has to admit that some times, like this time, government IS the answer.

Really? I can’t think of any Swedish newspaper that doesn’t put names on their editorials, regardless if it’s a staff writer or a freelancing columnist.[/quote]

At risk of sounding obvious… we are talking about American newspapers.

The NY times has editors who are regularly published in the Op-Ed section under their own names and then occassionally the paper itself publishes these opinion pieces with no byline. Typically it means it is an editorial board position piece.

What nonsense. What utter tripe! I daresay you are a communist, sir. The idea that a government should protect its citizenry?

No, the government exists to build sports stadiums, as everyone knows. The government exists to start random petty wars. To endlessly debate who should marry whom and how. To occasionally fight to keep a white woman alive. To make sure that all the black men are sent to the gas chamber. Oh, and then there’s one of my favorites: Removing anti-trust restrictions for their buddies’ companies.

Governments don’t exist to protect people. They exist to serve themselves. In a democracy, this means giving people what they want, as opposed to maybe what they need. Rather than accountable to each other, they’re accountable to the mob.

Right now we hear cries about how the levee wasn’t built correctly. Where were those cries a year ago? Right now we hear cries about how emergency services in Louisiana have had their funding cut. Where were those cries a year ago? Right now we hear cries about the horrible crime rate in NOLA. A year ago, dead silence.

Why? Because we were talking about whether or not fags should have a bogus contract so that they get to pay more taxes for a joint income. Because we were talking about some bitch in Florida on a respirator. Because we were fretting about the Cute White Girl Abduction of the Year. Because we were arguing about whether or not a certain religious group was getting proper representation in some other country’s government.

We’re sitting here fretting about how the Sunni minority in Iraq will be protected in a Democracy from the Shiite majority, right? Well, the answer to that is right here in the United States: How do those in the minority who want government to do what it should do for the welfare of its citizens protect themselves from the majority who want petty disputes resolved and mindless entertainment?

Oh, that’s right, we don’t.

Folks in Europe and Chile understand this now because there are still generations alive that remember losing that power. We don’t remember it. And eventually, Europeans and Chileans will forget as well. The Iraqis will be fine because they will remember how things were. Eventually, they will forget, too.

The demands will come for action. The people will give up their power so that action will occur. And then, democracy will die. As it always has in history, as it always will.

There may be a revolution. There may be an invasion from Germans or Americans. The dictator may leave office with no successor. And then something else will come along, or we’ll try democracy again, wise to the pitfalls once again.

Government consider the welfare of its citizens? In dreamland, or in the first 50 years after a revolution, maybe. Not now, and not for many decades.

Actually, usually people call for action, they get it, and they don’t have to give up their rights. But once in a while…

Thank you, David Koresh, dead from the compound!

(Of course you have some valid points. Then you push it too far…)

Awww, man, what fun is there in posting a rant on a political message board if I’m expected to be moderate and reasonable in my statements?

;)

Pretty much all papers in North America follow this format. The editorial spot is supposed to be the voice of the newspaper, and it’s usually overseen by a lead editor and a council of representatives from paper staff, often including the owner or someone who can speak for him/her/the company. So putting a single name in that space would be incorrect, since the editorial is never written/formulated by one person alone.