Sunday, September 04, 2005

The speech we're waiting for

Americans are waiting for someone to take responsibility. For the disaster after the disaster. For the chaos of our foreign policy. For the lack of domestic policy. For the partisan zero-sumship that has gotten us here. Here's what I think it should sound like.

To Americans old and young, rich and poor, working, unemployed and retired, good evening.

As we approach the fourth aniversary of one of the most sinister deeds committed against our people, we are confronted with a disaster of monumentally greater proportions.

To the people of New Orleans, and the gulf coasts of Alabama and Mississippi, I think I can safely say that you are in the thoughts and prayers of everyone across our great country.

Efforts are under way at helping put the pieces back together after this storm. But they will never be able to recreate the places we loved and the homes we lived in. These efforts are being undertaken by serious and committed people at all levels of government. But these efforts are too little and too late.

For nearly a full week after the hurricane efforts at helping people find safety, shelter and food failed. There were not enough resources to establish emergency shelters, temporary hospitals, or to reinforce local law enforcement or emergency workers.

Just like it would have been inconceivable to blame the police officers and firemen who ran to help victims of September 11th, it would be wrong to blame the people on the ground from FEMA, or other federal agencies.

If there is blame to be leveled, level it higher up. Level it at Congress. Level it at the President. Level it at your fellow Americans who are more concerned with flourish than with function. Because America, we are all responsible for what happened on the Gulf coast. Not for Katrina, but for ensuring that there wasn't enough done to prepare.

The budget last year cut the equivalent of 600 people from FEMA's staff. Congress passed it, and I signed it. That's right. While people in my tax bracket are getting government handouts in the form of HUGE tax breaks, our fellow Americans are left to suffer and die in the aftermath of a hurricane instead of being taken care of as anyone should be taken care of in the richest country on earth.

There is enough blame to go around. And whether through Congressional investigation or talking-heads on "news" shows, I'm sure it will be doled out.

But Americans are a people of action, and we are best when our people and our politicians take actions, not when we squable. If there was ever a time for action, it is now. When one of our most well-known cities has been destroyed. When hundreds of thousands of people's homes have been washed into the sea, or need to be knocked down.

We can't stop hurricanes from happening, but we can decide how we'll respond to them. There's only so much we can do to lower oil prices, but we can commit American resources, intelligence, and creativity into finding other fuels.

Americans must expect more from their government, and the government must do more to ensure that the safety and security of all people are as ensured to the greatest extent possible in the greatest country on earth.

This is what America should do, this is what we must do, and this is what we will do.

I want to close by thanking the millions of Americans who have offered their time, talent, resources, and prayers to help those who are suffering in New Orleans.

Good night, and God bless America.

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