Taking the Measure: The Presidency of George W. Bush

By Donald R. Kelley; Todd G. Shields | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Wading in the Water
George w. bush’s Civil rights Agenda

Pearl K. Ford Dowe

While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice
of our own country. The ambitions of some Americans are limited by fail-
ing schools, and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth. And
sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a
country. We do not accept this, and we will not allow it. Our unity, our union,
is the serious work of leaders and citizens in every generation. And this is my
solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity.

George W. Bush, Inaugural speech, 2001

You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals…. so many of
these people … are so poor and they are so black.

Wolf Blitzer, speaking about Hurricane Katrina victims,
September 1, 2005

How presidents lead, cope with the media, address federal-state relationships, establish boundaries, and define their policy agendas contribute to their ability or inability to address the demands imposed by disaster. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina raised many concerns about executive management of disasters and the effectiveness of the federal government in relationship to the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. George W. Bush was heavily criticized and personally took blame for the failures and shortcomings of government response to the disaster. Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina exposed the reported weaknesses of his administration that included political cronyism and isolation by advisers that kept him out of touch with the realities of how vulnerable citizens fared poorly under his policies.

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