Heroic Holdovers and Houston- Thanks, President Obama.

Donald Trump has been boasting about the federal government’s stellar response so far to the disaster caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. For once, he is absolutely right- and we have President Barack Obama to thank for it. Currently, the holdover heroes from Obama’s presidency, David Grant, and Kathleen Fox, are the ones most directly responsible for the organization of actual efforts on the ground. All Trump did, was to sign the piece of paper put in front of him to authorize federal aid. FEMA was reshaped, streamlined, and made viable, by the wisdom and decency of our former president.

That did not stop Trump from stealing all the credit, though. He spent Sunday coping with the problem the only way he knows how- by going on Twitter and bragging. He seemed more excited than anything by the storm. He repeatedly sent out tweets regarding its size and potency, but did not have any words at all for the most tragic aspect of this disaster yet- the two people who have lost their lives so far.
Trump’s administration wants to show the public they are capable of adequately addressing this catastrophe. The handling of a natural disaster is a defining moment for any presidency.  As a general rule, though, it’s bad to go into any crisis, including a gigantic hurricane, with a federal government at war with itself.
Trump’s White House did little to prepare. Instead, Trump spent the hours before the impending storm starting a political hurricane to go with the real one, by granting an unpopular pardon to the former Sheriff of Phoenix, Joe Arpaio.
Fortunately for the good people of Houston, however, Trump has been unable yet to fill two out of three politically appointed positions in FEMA. Trump took so long in deciding who he wanted to do the jobs, that his picks did not have time to be confirmed before the Senate went on recess. The same goes with the top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which monitors storms.
This leaves FEMA’s administrator, Brock Long, who said that this storm was “unlike anything ever seen before. FEMA is going to be there for years,” Long added Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union. There is no doubt this is true. In the meantime, however, the aforementioned Grant and Fox are running the show on the ground, and we are very grateful for them.“Federal civilian employees with decades of experience are currently serving as acting in those positions,” a FEMA spokesperson said.

R. David Paulison, who succeeded the Bush administration’s FEMA director Michael Brown after the latter resigned in the wake of national outrage to his feeble Katrina response, said he is “very comfortable” with the leadership currently in place.

“You like those positions filled,” he said, especially “as you put your policies in place, you want to put your own people in.” But, he added, “The people there in acting positions are seasoned FEMA executives. They’ve been there a long time.”

Unfortunately these efforts have been needlessly complicated, by the fact of major evacuation routes having to pass through immigration checkpoints. These have remained open throughout, contrary to the dictates both of reason and conscience.
Things are certainly looking brighter than they did in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck the coast of New Orleans, in the most destructive storm ever to be wrought upon our shores. President Obama saw to that while he was still serving. But one can’t help wondering, what will happen once these heroic holdovers are gone? There is no evidence at all that Trump’s usual sloven would not have carried the day, had it not been for them. It nearly did anyhow.
It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that the citizens of America should not count on the Trump administration to be able to handle a disaster of this magnitude properly. Over the twelve years that have passed since Katrina, extensive studies have been undertaken in the area of disaster relief. The key implication of them is that government does play a vital role, but that it is also our own responsibility to watch each other’s backs and be prepared. The former president said himself, “We can’t control the weather, but we can control our responses to it“.

4 thoughts on “Heroic Holdovers and Houston- Thanks, President Obama.

Come join in our Great Talk!