About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush "takes responsibility." Oh boy.

As it should be clear by now to readers of this blog, I often ask rather naive questions (or do I pretend to ask naive questions so that I can make a point, a la Socrates? You'll never know...)

One such question was prompted by the recent admission of responsibility for the Katrina disaster by George W.: what exactly does Mr. Bush mean when he says that he "takes responsibility"?

Let us consider some alternatives. He may mean that he is about to resign from the presidency. No, that would be a disproportionate response. After all, Katrina was an act of God (did you notice how most news media actually managed not to refer to it that way?), and Bush had a much better chance to resign after the infamous weapons of mass deception, I mean destruction, were not find in Iraq. So that possibility is out.

He could at least fire some of his top level aids on grounds of incompetence and for having spent billions during the last few years to increase the security of Americans, only to be completely unprepared for a national disaster that had actually been anticipated in detail for many years by scientistists (well, yeah, but who wants to pay attention to a bunch of egg-headed intellectuals anyway. They are the same people who keep telling us that human activities have something to do with global warming. C'mon!).

Well, at least Bush-II could change his fiscal policy, hold off on those permanent tax cuts for the reach, and finance the reconstruction of New Orleans with a minimum burden to the already ballooning public deficit (what on earth happened to fiscal conservativeness in the Republican party, anyhow?). But no, those cuts are untouchable, because Republicans, as is well understood by everyboy in the world except Americans, are the party of the (white) rich, clearly those who deserve the most protection from our government (after all, they are a minority, aren't they?). God forbid they should have to share some of the burden of helping the (black) poor emerge from the devastation of Katrina.

So, once again, what does it mean, exactly, for Bush to "take responsibility"?


  1. Well, I think most people familiar with Bush's m.o. know what he means. He means to overtly imply "I'm a leader, a take charge kinda guy, trust me, I'll fix this" and he means implicity to say, "I said I'm responsible, so don't hold me responsible."

    Its empty words crafted by Rove to defuse and undercut criticism of the President.

    What strikes me is the similarity this situation bears to 9/11. Both scenarios were predicted by FEMA. Both scenarios had early warning signs that they would occur (with Katrina being leaps and bounds more obvious than 9/11). Both instances marked a significant intelligence failure, with, perhaps Katrina being of far worse consequence since the administration had supposedly spent four years re-ordering the Dept. Of Homeland Security to respond to such a crisis.

    In the aftermath of both situations the President made reassuring statements about taking control and "responsibility". In both situations effors for independent investigation of what went wrong were blocked. And in both instances the disaster was used to justify the implementation of policies that the administration had previously advocated on ideological grounds.

    Those who forget the past and what not ...

    P.S. Have to say, I dig this blog. Its like a way smarter version of mine.


  2. Oh, and I forgot to add:
    After 9/11 the EPA downplayed the health risks associated with breathing the debris ridden air.

    After Katrina the EPA is downplaying the health consequences of toxic spillage and wat contamination (according to a whistle-blower)


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