Disaster is something that every global government will have to face at some point in their existence. This year alone, numerous disasters both natural and manmade hit various areas all over the world. Often, the impact of a disaster becomes more pronounced when superimposed against government intervention with the disaster. In the cases of hurricane Katrina and the latest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Bush and Obama, respectively intervened in ways that clearly distinguish the competence of each of these presidents in responding to disaster.
During the Bush administration, Louisiana was hit by hurricane Katrina and then President Bush apparently exercised a certain degree of indifference in preparing for the hurricane as well as operations implemented after the hurricane had caused its horrors. The matter of response is initially pinned on Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff who is claimed to have “switched on the government’s emergency response systems “late, ineffectively or not at all,” delaying the flow of federal troops and materiel by as much as three days.
” (Hsu) This, however, is due to the fact that the White House did not intervene earlier; hence, the conclusion is made that if Bush had intervened earlier responses to the disaster would have been faster than they had been. Many claim that top presidential aides led the president to believe that the disaster was not cause for alarm and so this indifference rubbed on to the President who felt that an urgent response was over-reacting to the said hurricane.
On the outset, it is clear that while the president’s top aides are directly at fault in this situation, the President’s mistake is not making his own assessment of the situation and being over confident of what was being fed to him by the Homeland Security Operations Center and the White House Homeland Security Council. Bush is also blamed for other problems with this particular disaster response because of “poor communications among first responders, a shortage of qualified emergency personnel and lack of training and funding”.
(Hsu) While the first two elements of the disaster response in this incident may be directly pinned on the implementing arms, the budgetary inadequacies can only be blamed on the White House. Critics further point out that Bush would have had a better disaster response system in place after the 9/11 lesson, but such is not the case. Obama, in relation to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, on the other hand, seems to have followed suit when it comes to disaster coordination and response. Again, this administration’s response has been slow; slower in fact than the response of the Bush administration.
It will be noted that immediately upon occurrence of the oil spill, the Dutch government offered to help, but it would seem that the White House openly rejected this offer. (Ashley) Like Bush, Obama also leaned toward the aggressive only after international attention had been generated and various environmental groups have expressed their horror over the disaster. Obama, amid the obvious sloth-like response of the government “dismissed charges the government had acted too slowly in the crisis.
” (Winspear) While Bush left the disaster responses to his top aides, the Obama administration might have even done something worse, and that is to have full confidence and trust in BPs efforts to clean up the spill. Coast Guard Administrator, “Allen told reporters that BP was responsible for the cleanup and the government was accountable to make sure the company did it. ” (Associated Press) Weeks after this statement was made, the oil spill was yet to be effectively addressed which is why government scientists stepped in to intervene with the problem.
In comparing the responses of both administrations, two common elements begin to emerge – that both presidents were slow to respond and that both presidents placed responsibility on other parties such as the Homeland Security Council as well as the contracting company of the oil rig, BP. The responses of both presidents in terms of post-disaster coordinating were also similar in that aggressive measures were only taken when the damage already rose to painfully obvious proportions.
Judging from these responses it seems to become clear that both presidents were initially indifferent and believed that the disasters could be kept concealed and addressed in the background. This shows the incompetence of both presidents in terms of dealing with disasters which is strange because the 9/11 incident would have taught the White House a lot about responding to disasters promptly and having a firm hand on the matter of post and pre disaster responses. “President George W. Bush has always trusted his gut.
He prides himself in ignoring the distracting chatter, the caterwauling of the media elites” (Thomas) according to many personages close to him but it seems that with hurricane Katrina all accountability and response efficiency flew out of the White House window. Obama could have done better after seeing how the world reacted to the disaster responses of the previous administration, but such does not seem to be the case. It seems that Obama, while being too preoccupied of other matters that were not as urgent as the gulf spill, overlooked the reality that something as obvious as this disaster could put a dent on his administration.
What is even more alarming is that even after the gulf spill, Obama still insisted on offshore oil mining and harvesting, in fact, many permits to mine oil offshore were approved by the White House after the incident. (Winspear) If presidents continue to be like this in responding to disasters then the world has to brace itself for more casualties in the future because the only way for these presidents to convince the citizenry that they can situations can prove otherwise is to shape up and speed up.
Presidents, after all, should be fully accountable and responsible of the welfare of the people. ? Works Cited Ashley, Gerry. “Obama’s Response to Oil Spill: Incompetence or Politics?. ” Grand Rants. N. p. , 31 May 2010. Web. 24 Aug. 2010. <http://grandrants. wordpress. com/2010/06/14/obamas-response-to-oil-spill-incompetance-or-politics/>. Associated Press, . “Obama defends federal response to oil spill. ” MSNBC. N. p. , 27 May 2010. Web. 24 Aug. 2010. <http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/37370226/>. Hsu, Spencer.
“Katrina Report Spreads Blame Homeland Security, Chertoff Singled Out. ” The Washington Post. N. p. , 12 Feb. 2006. Web. 24 Aug. 2010. <http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/11/AR2006021101409. html>. Salazar-Winspear, Olivia. “Obama defends government response to oil spill. ” France 24. N. p. , 28 May 2010. Web. 24 Aug. 2010. <http://www. france24. com/en/20100527-obama-defends-government-response-oil-spill-gulf-mexico-bp>. Thomas, Evan. “How Bush Blew It. ” MSNBC. Newsweek, 19 Sept. 2005. Web. 24 Aug. 2010. <http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/9287434/>.