George W. Bush is a cowboy and a president. After witnessing events unfold in our nation’s very recent history, culminating in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I am starting to realize that the word “and” in the first sentence should be replaced with the word “or.” Bush’s “my way or the highway” approach to being commander in chief may work well on a Texas cattle ranch or in a saloon, but when it comes to being the leader and preeminent statesman of the world’s most powerful nation, his tactics are dangerously irresponsible and destructive, and worst of all, have cost thousands of innocent lives throughout the country and around the world. Despite this, Bush seems to have the ability to avoid accountability.
First there were the reports that his administration failed to heed warnings that the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 could happen and were in fact likely.
Inaction on this intelligence resulted in upwards of 3,000 American civilians dying horrific deaths. Then came the Iraq war, which has turned out to be protracted, poorly planned, and based on completely false and misleading pretenses; a war in which the majority of casualties have continued to pile up long after it was triumphantly proclaimed to be over more than two years ago.
Meanwhile, the country is plunged into a massive deficit, and its entire military is stretched to the limit. Finally a massive Level 5 hurricane barrels into the nation’s gulf coast. Help does not arrive for days and in that time people drown, starve and suffer. Bush decides it may be time to end his vacation.
The Bush administration aggressively used retribution for the September 11 attacks as propaganda for its Iraq war, but there was virtually no connection in reality. The administration also stated that the invasion was necessary because Iraq posed a threat to the U.S. and had weapons of mass destruction.
It is now clear that Iraq had none of these. The administration either lied twice-over to an American public traumatized and reeling from a recent national tragedy, or it irresponsibly allowed itself to be duped by abysmally inadequate information. As a result, the number of American troops killed in Iraq is nearing 2,000 while Iraqi civilian deaths are in the tens of thousands, if not more.
When Hurricane Katrina rolled into the Gulf Coast, most of the military and National Guard personnel, who would have otherwise been on-hand to begin immediately rescuing and tending to survivors and restoring order, were unavailable because they were deployed overseas, leaving American citizens to languish. And, instead of standing ready to begin immediately dealing with the disaster, our commander in chief was enforcing his record as the president with the most vacation days in history, sitting inert on his ranch as Katrina whipped towards the Gulf in all her fury.
As a result, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who might have survived died due to lack of help. Babies died in makeshift shelters. Elderly died sitting in their wheelchairs. Women were raped, and violence, filth, crime and sickness ran rampant. The mayor of New Orleans begged desperately for help that would not arrive for days. All this, and Bush still managed to convey to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi his utter ignorance that the relief operation should have been better.
Furthermore, levees in New Orleans that were known to be desperately in need of repairs were left in their malfunctional state, while over $200 million was allocated to build a bridge in Alaska that leads more or less to nowhere. As a result, New Orleans is now a seething, deadly and flooded grave, with authorities estimating the death toll near 10,000.
The hurricane ironically demonstrated that despite Bush’s rhetoric, his actions have in fact rendered this country more dangerous, not more secure. Our protection and security forces are all on over-extended tours of duty thousands of miles away. The administration has deftly demonstrated that the security of its constituent Americans in fact takes a back seat to other agendas.
So far I have estimated a Bush body count easily between 50,000 and 100,000 lives lost. Granted, while some of these events doubtlessly would have occurred regardless of who was in office, it seems safe to say that actions and inactions by Bush have resulted in untold amounts of preventable deaths. Sheer incompetence, if not amorality, of this particular president has caused countless lives domestically and around the world to be lost needlessly. How many more lives have to be lost before impeachment is considered?
I, for one, am beginning to wonder how many more lives will be lost through acts of brash irresponsibility before enough people realize and admit that the president of the world’s most powerful nation happens to be a public health and safety hazard to the entire global population.
Bethania Palma can be reached at email@example.com