...to quote Bugs Bunny. But to continue the quote, "I'll do it!"
New Orleans, 09/03/05 (Combined Services)
"I want you to know that I'm not going to forget what I've seen, and I’m not going to do anything about it, either," President Bush said in remarks at the end of the day on the tarmac at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. "I understand the devastation requires more than one day's attention, but that's even longer than my attention span is. It's going to require the attention from this country for a long period of time. Just like Louis Armstrong said when he walked on the Moon for the first time back in 1969, “This is one giant step… for, uhh, somebody!”
Mr. Bush's arrival coincided with long-awaited deliveries of Kool-Aid to the flood zone. But the president did not interact much with storm victims. Advisor Karl Rove said, “Well, they smell pretty bad; you know, they're sweaty, they haven't showered, and their clothes are all wet. We screened a few of them for photo ops with the POTUS, but none of them made the grade.”
Mr. Bush flew back to Washington from New Orleans after dedicating the Ronald Reagan Memorial Chaotic Makeshift Trauma Center, set up in one terminal at the airport, where many patients evacuated from the city's hospitals were dying before they could be airlifted to other cities. Chuckling quietly, Mr. Bush said, “Now I know why they call it a terminal!” His dry Texas wit never fails him, even in trying times like these.
For the first time, Mr. Bush acknowledged that the government response to the catastrophe had fallen short. "The results are not acceptable," the president said as he left the White House about 9 a.m., his face fixed in his trademark grin. “Pray to God, okay? He put this’yer mess on ya, and only He can take it off yuh's. Don’t ask me to do it!”
Later, however, after a walking tour of Point Cadet, a poor neighborhood of flattened one-story bungalows in Biloxi, Miss., Mr. Bush amended his remark to say, "I'm certainly not denigrating the efforts of God." He added, "I am satisfied with the response. Like John Calvin said, there are the Elect and there are the Damned, and y’all better figger out which you is and get used to it.”
Mr. Bush toured Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana as he was coming under some of the harshest attacks of his presidency - from Democrats, Republicans, local officials, hurricane victims and the general public, who have been shocked by scenes of bodies floating in floodwater and the elderly left dead in their wheelchairs in the world's most powerful nation.
"I don't think anybody can be prepared for the vastness of the destruction here in Billings," Mr. Bush told reporters in Biloxi, quickly correcting himself after an aide whispered in his ear. "Oh, right, here in Biloxi." Walking through streets of crushed cars and the occasional concrete stairway to nowhere, he continued, "You can look at a picture, but until you sit on that doorstep of a house that used to be, or stand by the rubble— hee hee, that makes me think of Barney Rubble, weren’t he a card?— you just can't imagine it. I ain’t doin’ none o’ that, though, I’m going back to the ranch and finish my vacation.”
He also declared that the United States had the resources to fight this disaster as well as the war in Iraq. "Somebody questioned me the other day, 'Do we have enough National Guard troops?'" Mr. Bush said. "Of course we do. All around my ranch house in Crawford, we’ve got no shortage of troops— hell, there’s even a bugler to wake us up in the morning.”
In Biloxi, Mr. Bush hugged and kissed two weeping sisters on a street where a house had collapsed, telling them to "either hang in there, or hang yourselves," and later passed out bottles of water to residents at a Salvation Army truck. An angry, homeless black refugee said, “Goddamn! Prez, you might have given us all a bundle o’ $100 bills instead o' this shit, Lord knows you got enough of ‘em! Y'all crazier than a mo'fo, George, comin down heah jes' ta give out water!” This rude upstart was dragged outside by National Guard soldiers and summarily executed.
Mr. Bush did not go into the heart of the city's devastation, where thousands of largely poor, minority refugees have raged at the government's lack of response to one of the worst natural disasters in American history. The White House cited security concerns and worries about causing more chaos as the reasons for keeping Mr. Bush away from the streets and the New Orleans Superdome, where refugees have lived in squalor and lawlessness for days. "Let's face it, he causes chaos everywhere he goes," said an unnamed White House source.
The Government’s immediate response was that Squalor and Lawlessness will be given their own Zip Codes. The Postal Service is busily engaged in choosing the numbers, which hasn't been an easy job since the four-digit extension was added in 1999. It's been a real mental challenge for the Postal authorites to add a dash and four more digits to the existing numbers.
“Look,” said Deputy White House spokesman E. Norm Frappini, “Don’t give the President a hard time. He’s got enough on his plate without having to deal with a bunch of whiny negroes and ignorant white trash. Six months from now, they’ll be in the middle of a drought and they’ll be complaining about that, too. There’s no pleasing some people!”
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