Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Kerry And Big Dog Smack Bush

Well, it's about damn time.

Bill Clinton and John Kerry have both come out firing at the Bush administration this week.

Speaking at Brown University on Monday, Kerry blasted Team Bush, saying that former FEMA Director Michael Brown was to Hurricane Katrina "what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq; what George Tenet is to 'slam dunk intelligence'; ... what George Bush is to 'Mission Accomplished' and 'Wanted Dead or Alive.' ... The bottom line is simple: The 'we'll do whatever it takes' administration doesn't have what it takes to get the job done."

Here's more from Kerry on Katrina Response:

And the gap is growing between the enduring strength of the American people -- their values, their spirit, their imagination, their ingenuity, and their willingness to serve and sacrifice -- and the shocking weakness of the American government in contending with our country's urgent challenges. On the Gulf Coast during the last two weeks, the depth and breadth of that gap has been exposed for all to see and we have to address it now before it is obscured again by hurricane force spin and deception.

Katrina stripped away any image of competence and exposed to all the true heart and nature of this administration. The truth is that for four and a half years, real life choices have been replaced by ideological agenda, substance replaced by spin, governance second place always to politics. Yes, they can run a good campaign -- I can attest to that -- but America needs more than a campaign. If 12 year-old Boy Scouts can be prepared, Americans have a right to expect the same from their 59 year-old President of the United States.

And the rush now to camouflage their misjudgments and inaction with money doesn’t mean they are suddenly listening. It's still politics as usual. The plan they’re designing for the Gulf Coast turns the region into a vast laboratory for right wing ideological experiments. They’re already talking about private school vouchers, abandonment of environmental regulations, abolition of wage standards, subsidies for big industries - and believe it or not yet another big round of tax cuts for the wealthiest among us!

The administration is recycling all their failed policies and shipping them to Louisiana. After four years of ideological excess, these Washington Republicans have a bad hangover -- and they can't think of anything to offer the Gulf Coast but the hair of the dog that bit them.
And on the Iraq war:
I know the President went on national television last week and accepted responsibility for Washington's poor response to Katrina. That's admirable. And it's a first. As they say, the first step towards recovery is to get out of denial. But don't hold your breath hoping acceptance of responsibility will become a habit for this administration. On the other hand, if they are up to another "accountability moment" they ought to start by admitting one or two of the countless mistakes in conceiving, "selling", planning and executing their war of choice in Iraq.
You can read the rest of Senator Kerry's excellent speech here.

President Clinton appeared on ABC's This Week with former White House staffer George Stephanopoulos and gave harsh criticism of the Bush administration's response to Katrina saying "You can't have an emergency plan that works if it only affects middle-class people up."

Clinton also pointed out what economic statistics prove: that poverty has gone up under Republican administrations and down during the time that he was president.

"This is a matter of public policy," he said. "And whether it's race-based or not, if you give your tax cuts to the rich and hope everything works out all right, and poverty goes up and it disproportionately affects black and brown people, that's a consequence of the action made. That's what they did in the '80s; that's what they've done in this decade. In the middle, we had a different policy. We concentrated tax cuts on lower income working people and benefits to low-income people that helped them move from welfare to work, and we moved 100 times as many people out of poverty. We know what works, and we had a program that was drastically reducing poverty, and they got rid of it. And they don't believe in it."

The former president also countered the argument made by some Republicans that many trapped in New Orleans simply failed to heed the evacuation orders.

"It's like when they issued the evacuation order," he said. "That affects poor people differently. A lot of them in New Orleans didn't have cars. A lot of them who had cars had kinfolk they had to take care of. They didn't have cars, so they couldn't take them out."

A good start by both men – but it's only a start. While grassroots Democrats are aggressively organizing and a robust anti-war movement has been growing throughout the country, Democratic leaders have been disturbingly silent.

Let's hope this is the start of some leading Democrats truly starting to lead.