If anyone needs further proof regarding FEMA's inadequacies, take a look at Portland's own Washington-Monroe High School. A few days after Hurricane Katrina demolished New Orleans, FEMA announced that 1,000 displaced residents would make their way to Portland for temporary shelter. In response, the local Red Cross hustled to prepare the vacant school.
But no sooner had they announced the relocation effort, FEMA began hemming and hawing. One press release explained that the New Orleans residents may or may not arrive after all. After one release said the operation was canceled, hours later, another press release announced 500 victims would be transported here. Ultimately, no one arrived.
In the meantime, across the nation, other cities were suffering similar confusion at the hands of FEMA: A premier medical facility in Charleston, South Carolina received a phone call to prepare for a plane-load of victims. Subsequently, physicians were on call for hours, only to find out later that FEMA had mistakenly delivered the victims to a facility in Charleston, West Virginia.
Yet, in spite of a series of shameful logistical failures by the federal government, the Oregonian chose, once again, to defend President Bush. On Thursday, September 8, the Oregonian's star columnist David Reinhard called the left's scrutiny of the federal response to Katrina "opportunistic hogwash." At no point does Reinhard even mention Michael Brown, the FEMA director hand-picked by Bush and roundly "credited" as the primary source behind FEMA's massive-scale fuck up.
Through Bush's presidency, the Oregonian has endorsed and defended the president's missteps, from pursuing military action in Iraq to whitewashing civil liberty abuses. Routinely, like Reinhard's most recent column, the Oregonian has told dissenters they should back down and put our trust in the government during these times of national crisis.
But the fact is, every day we learn that the greatest danger to our national security comes directly from the Bush administration's judgment calls. With Bush appointing two new Supreme Court justices, now is exactly the time to question his ability to appoint appropriate persons to the highest levels of the federal government. It's not time to gloss over or ignore Bush's past mistakes.