Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bush’s New Orleans Katrina speech Analysis:

Pres. Bush gave a speech in New Orleans Thursday night outlining his approach to the disaster. Many said, “Well, it’s about time.” Here is my analysis of the speech’s words themselves:

First Post-Speech Impressions: “Wow, we elected Lyndon Delano Bush!” This is the most ambitious spending we’ve ever undertaken since the Great Society. However, I was deeply moved by the lines evoking history, and the plan had conservative elements, like savings accounts for job retraining. The “Marshall Plan” aspect of the speech is historic. I agree with strategist Dick Morris: The Democrats had be quite careful how they approach Bush’s plans.

Best Paragraph: “In the life of this nation, we have often been reminded that nature is an awesome force, and that all life is fragile. We are the heirs of men and women who lived through those first terrible winters at Jamestown and Plymouth, who rebuilt Chicago after a great fire, and San Francisco after a great earthquake, who reclaimed the prairie from the dust bowl of the 1930s. Every time, the people of this land have come back from fire, flood and storm to build anew and to build better than what we had before. Americans have never left our destiny to the whims of nature and we will not start now.”

Line Most Reminiscent of a “Fireside Speech”: “I know that when you sit on the steps of a porch where a home once stood or sleep on a cot in a crowded shelter it is hard to imagine a bright future. But that future will come.” - Like FDR in the Great Depression, Bush delivered some very comforting lines. This should have been the tone of his post-Katrina “Rose Garden” Speech just after the hurricane, but it wasn’t, and he suffered for being uncaring and out-of-touch.

Most Uplifting To Residents: “The streets of Biloxi and Gulfport will again be filled with lovely homes and the sound of children playing. The churches of Alabama will have their broken steeples mended and their congregations whole. And here in New Orleans, the streetcars will once again rumble down St. Charles, and the passionate soul of a great city will return.”

Most Inappropriate Line for a Presidential Address: “Please call 1-877-568-3317 - that's 1-877-568-3317 - and we will work to bring your family back together, and pay for your travel to reach them.” - As Michelle Malkin said in her blog “Maybe it's just me, but isn't there something tacky about having the leader of the free world reading a phone number from the teleprompter? Also, it's been three weeks and they're only now publicizing a number for Katrina families looking for missing relatives?” Note: It’s not just her.

Biggest “Duh” Line: “Four years after the frightening experience of September 11th, Americans have every right to expect a more effective response in a time of emergency.” - Does this mean he “gets it?” Let’s hope he understands the wide, bi-partisan anger and exasperation over those scenes at the Superdome and elsewhere.

Lines Most Reminiscent of the “Great Society”: “…poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality.” - Race had nothing to do with the poverty in New Orleans, and he shouldn’t have bought the liberal spin on this. No amount of (long term) federal spending will “end” poverty, even though immediate needs must be met. Even so, where is race in the rescue? The FEMA failures? The failure of local officials? It’s nowhere.

Conclusions: Overall, this speech was well performed, and nicely written. It touched a lot of good points, but was probably delivered eight days too late for its proper impact. His tendency to make lists of all the good things the government has done was on display again here, but I’m certain his advisors thought something positive must be here, since he again took full responsibility for a slow response. As a grade, I’d give it a solid “B” for conveying a clear message, and a “B” for historical memorability.

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