It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces—the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment’s notice.
I suspect their fears that such changes would endanger the power of the states is reasonable. I also suspect that they but not NPR are in a position to complain about such encroachments: the latter repeatedly accused Bush of not acting swiftly not powerfully enough. I don’t know much about federalism or disaster relief, but I do suspect the best policy will not be defined by the nature of one of the worst possible natural disasters that took place in our most lawless, most poverty-stricken, most racially-divided, and most corrupt city (is that unfair to New Orleans? Maybe).
Bush’s speech, in blue in Jackson Square. Gerson tugs our heartstrings, but this often comes from the sweep of history with which he surrounds the present. The blue background was echoed in Bush’s shirt and the sense of big sky country – of a broad and hopeful horizon – went with the speech:
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. [italics inserted]
But then, in conclusion, the trope became all New Orleans:
And they remind us that we are tied together in this life, in this nation and that the despair of any touches us all.
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.
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 street cars will once again rumble down St. Charles, and the passionate soul of a great city will return.
In this place, there is a custom for the funerals of jazz musicians. The funeral procession parades slowly through the streets, followed by a band playing a mournful dirge as it moves to the cemetery. Once the casket has been laid in place, the band breaks into a joyful “second line” — symbolizing the triumph of the spirit over death. Tonight the Gulf Coast is still coming through the dirge, yet we will live to see the second line.