So today President Bush George Bush said he took “full responsibility” for government failures in dealing with Hurricane Katrina.
It’s an astute move, given the anger and disbelief that has been roused in the wake of the inept federal response to events.
However it is action on the ground, and not pretty words from Washington that will determine the success of this latest attempt by Bush to regain some credibility and the trust of the American people.
If corporations with close links to the White House are seen to profit from this disaster it is hard to imagine quite how Bush could weather the political storm which could ensue from such an incident.
And while the government and the privileged elites seek their profits, it is on the ground that we see the best that America has to offer, as citizen groups rally together to support those communities and individuals who have lost everything.
It is a spirit that Bush himself was keen to praise in his September 10th radio address :
“… adversity brings out the best in the American spirit. In this time of great suffering, we have seen the courage and determination of rescue personnel who willingly risk their lives to save the lives of others … Our greatest resource in such times is the compassionate character of the American people, because even the most destructive storm cannot weaken the heart and soul of our nation. America will overcome this ordeal, and we will be stronger for it … Even in the deepest darkness, we can see the light of hope, and the light shows us the way forward.”
The contrast between the two responses is telling and speaks volumes about the discrepancy between the “compassionate character” of the American people and that of its government.
In the end it may lead enough people to consider the extent to which their government was able to perform its most basic of tasks – the protection of its people.
For that is an idea that has always been at the heart of America, right from its foundation but which seems to have been forgotten, even in light of 9/11.
â€œGovernments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, â€¦.. whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happinessâ€ Declaration of Independence
A “self evident truth” that Bush may do well to ponder over the coming months.