EDITORIAL: Bush serves as good example

Last week, President Bush made an unprecedented stand during his time in office when he made a voluntary apology for the federal government’s mishaps in the wake of Katrina. The exact quote goes as follows: “Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government. To the extent the federal government didn’t fully do its job right, I take responsibility.”

Critics saw this as an almost apology, where Bush was standing up and apologizing for the “federal government’s” failings. Other’s noticed Bush’s subtle critique of “all levels of government.” Yet, for a man who could not think of a mistake a year ago when campaigning against John Kerry, last week’s comments were a great step for Bush as both leader and person. Yet, the apologies need not end there.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco needs to follow her commander in chief’s example and start preparing a statement of apology. The state of Louisiana did not make all the correct moves in the days and hours leading up to Katrina’s landfall. As such, many people were hurt and some killed needlessly. Blanco has done a fine job demanding apologies from anyone and everyone, but mum’s the word on her own accepting of responsibility.

Most of the same can be said for New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin who has been probably the most offensive of the elected leaders to speak out post-Katrina. His rantings from the streets of New Orleans would be funny if they weren’t after America’s largest natural disaster, and if they weren’t so damn serious. Nagin’s comments, most of the time, are as legit as Kanye West’s comment that “President Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

Nagin has, unfortunately, found himself as one of the most radical speakers, yet he isn’t blameless. Nagin could have called for an immediate evacuation of the city under martial law. He could have used those school buses that we all got to watch float down the streets to take the poor from the city to places where they’d be safe. It’s true that as bodies are found throughout the next week, they will be the bodies of New Orlean’s poor, for the rich had the means out. As each of those impoverished bodies is found beneath layers of muck and mire, Nagin needs to step forward, take a humbling breath, and follow his commander in chief’s example.

Yet, as all these requests for apologies come in, it’ll be the American public’s responsibility to remember that Hurricane Katrina was a “natural” disaster. It was not a disaster that was created by an irresponsible leader. And as much as those leaders’ responses to the natural disaster do have impact, Katrina was still a storm that hit very vulnerable land and did what a storm would do.

Sadly, tragedy is part of a natural disaster. It’s why we call them disasters. This event is not a reason to throw a leader into the fire. This event is a reason to remember that all Americans survive and thrive together, regardless of how many miles and how many differences separate us. It will only be through this mindset, not the blaming, hating mindset that politics so readily breeds, that a real advancement post-Katrina will occur.

Expect apologies, but be ready to give forgiveness.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.