Perhaps no one in Vermont has benefitted more from the Bush administration’s post-9/11 military posturing than Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie.
Like Bush, Dubie is fond of citing his experience at Ground Zero; like Bush, Dubie has cultivated a quasi-military air whenever possible. If you go to Dubie’s official state website, you start to feel a bit like you’ve stumbled into a uniform supply warehouse — jet pilot uniforms, commercial pilot uniforms, executive blue power-suits, all draped over the same blandly inoffensive model.
And there’s the real similarity. In the twin cases of Bush and Dubie, the uniform is always also a veil for a distinctly unimpressive domestic policy record.
Hurricane Katrina, of course, parted the veil on the Bush administration. Behind the thrilling pictures and the bomber jackets was an administration that knew very little about a lot of crucial government functions.
Not surprisingly, if you go to Dubie’s official state website, you find much impressive talk about security and safety and such. And if you click on “Homeland Security,” you get a Top-Gun glossy of Dubie in a flight jacket, looking tousled and determined. This page is really just a links page, taking you to some boilerplate from various Vermont agencies.
But one more click on “Be Ready” (because let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be?) takes you into the weird Wonderland that is FEMA, Michael Brown’s old sinecure.
And that takes you, finally, to “FEMA for Kids.” FEMA for Kids is, as you might imagine, bizarro.
There is the “FEMA Rap for Kidz,” which some crack political appointee seems to have designed to reach inner city youth.
“Disaster . . . it can happen anywhere,
But we’ve got a few tips, so you can be prepared
For floods, tornadoes, or even a ‘quake,
You’ve got to be ready - so your heart don’t break.
Disaster prep is your responsibility
And mitigation is important to our agency.”
Okay, so the last couplet doesn’t rhyme — the important thing is that it teaches children early that it’s their fault if rising flood waters carry away Aunt Sadie.
And the whole lyric is seasoned with so-much FEMA hubris that it’s almost painful post-Katrina:
“When disaster strikes, we are at our best
But we’re ready all the time, ’cause disasters don’t rest.”
But my vote for most-bizarro bit from FEMA for Kids? It’s the cautionary tale of Mary Ann:
“Mary Ann lived near the Gulf of Mexico in 1969 when Hurricane Camille struck her three-story apartment building. Mary Ann was one of 24 people who didn’t leave the Richelieu Apartments when they were warned. When the storm surge hit, the building began to creak and the windows broke out. Water started flooding in and was all over the apartment in a matter of two minutes . . . .
“The winds and waves were so strong that every time Mary Ann grabbed hold of something it would be ripped from her hands. She kept getting hit by the wreckage and was bloody from head to toe from the nails in the boards. This went on for 12 hours before Mary Ann was found 4 1⁄2 miles from her house. She was taken to a hospital where she stayed for three weeks.
“Today, Mary Ann is grown up. She still lives in Mississippi. She tells her story over and over so people will listen when they’re told to evacuate.”
I don’t know about you but that’s precisely my idea of how to keep children calm in an emergency: feed them cute stories about people who ignore FEMA warnings and as a result are treated to a scourging like something out of The Passion of the Christ.
Who knew that Brian Dubie’s website was perched atop all this FEMA-mania? Who knew the Douglas/Dubie approach to health-care was just a gussied-up version of the Bush approach?
Anybody who bothered to look behind the flight jacket.