Sun. Jan 23rd, 2022

As a reaction to sinking approval ratings and anger toward the federal government from refugees struggling in New Orleans, President Bush has taken responsibility for inadequate recovery. However, are his recent statements sincere?Hurricane Katrina is drowning President Bush’s second term because it undermines his claims that he is a strong, decisive leader. When Hurricane Katrina struck, the federal government was late to respond. Through the media, U.S. citizens across the country saw people dying of hunger and unsanitary conditions.

Recently, President Bush has claimed responsibility for the poor recovery effort. However, is he truthful, or is he trying to save his presidency and push his agenda? An AP-Ipsos poll taken during the week of Sept. 11, 2005 found that the president’s approval rating has plummeted to 39 percent, the lowest of his presidency so far.

As Americans continue to turn against the Bush administration because of soaring gasoline prices, the grueling war in Iraq and the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush will have a hard time pushing his agenda. Low poll numbers and an energized Democratic Party can harm the president’s agenda. He still needs to nominate a justice to replace O’Connor and he may have a tough time nominating a staunch conservative.

Bush will also struggle with his plan to privatize Social Security and continue waging the unpopular war in Iraq. The American people’s trust in the Bush administration has been shaken. Hurricane Katrina has created the biggest obstacle for the Bush administration, and it has the ability to make him a lame duck throughout his second term.

The backlash against the Bush administration also impacts the rest of the Republican Party. If support for Bush continues to drop, it will harm the GOP during mid-term elections in 2006, and the cost will be the loss of Republican seats in the House and Senate.

The catastrophe in the Gulf Coast has also exposed a racial divide that is harming the Bush administration and polarizing the country. Most of the people stranded in New Orleans are poor and African American. During a televised speech on Thursday, Sept. 15, President Bush denied that the government’s inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina was racially motivated, but he did admit that serious racial and class problems exist in New Orleans.

During his speech, President Bush said that the Gulf Coast is afflicted with “deep, persistent poverty.” He went on to say that the poverty “has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which has cut off generations from the opportunity of America.”

President Bush vowed to confront the issue of poverty, but is he being earnest? Several of the Bush administration’s policies do little to combat poverty. Tax cuts feed the wealthiest in the country, and the No Child Left Behind policy gives little money to poor schools.

If the president is honest about helping those in the Gulf Coast, he must reach out to other countries across the world and ask for aid. He should also take somemoney from the bloated, military budget and use that money to fund the recovery effort in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

If the president truly wants to confront poverty, which has been exposed because of Hurricane Katrina, he should stop giving tax cuts to the wealthiest group of Americans, and should give more money to poor schools.

If the president really does not have an agenda to push, then he must do more than take responsibility for the slow recovery effort: he must act.

Brian Fanelli is a senior majoring in comparative literature with minors in creative writing and journalism.

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