My blood started boiling as hard as the water had to be boiled in New Orleans after Katrina. I had wandered into to the great room Sunday morning to turn off the television. It was tuned to ABC and George Stephanopolous was interviewing Condi Rice. He was asking her if the Washington Post story stating that after hurricane Katrina the U.S. refused most offers of aid, was true.
Her reply stopped me in my tracks but one sentence in particular astounded me, "The United States is, frankly, not accustomed to receiving large-scale foreign assistance offers."
Excuse me?? How arrogant and short sighted is that? It was embarrassing knowledge in the diplomatic community that millions of dollars in manpower, supplies and expertise and cash were being turned down.
How much? Allies offered $854 million in cash and oil that was to be sold for cash! At the time the oil was valued at $400 million. Remember the refineries that were decimated in the storm? Remember the hospitals that were destroyed? Remember the lack of food, water and shelter?
Cellphone systems, medical supplies and cruise ships for lodging were denied because the government - our government, couldn't handle them! Remember "Great job Brownie"?
A shipment of medical supplies from Italy spoiled in the heat and humidity and had to be destroyed. In a moment of candor, brief as it was, an official wrote, "Tell them we blew it." Then she hedged her bet and added, "The flip side is just to dispose of it and not come clean. I could be persuaded." Please!
Fifty-four of 77 recorded offers from three of our staunchest allies: Canada, Great Britain and Israel, were declined.
And here we have New Orleans, one of our most historical cities, and the surrounding area literally in it's death throe. Still. And our government allowed this? You know what really got me? It was the patronizing way she excused it. The tone of her voice.
We're 17 months from an election for new leadership. I hope we can survive. The politicians vying for the top job are less than inspirational at the moment. All the early politicking may seem like overkill but it does give us the opportunity to look at all of them long and hard. We need to demand more than platitudes and hold the feet of the viable candidates to the fire. If there are any.