Planning Ain't Doing

Many years ago I had a business partner who was forever "getting ready." That's all he ever did. Day in and day out he would organize things at the office. He established filing and cross-filing strategies that made the Dewey Decimal System look like chaos. He was forever "covering bases," just in case "this" or "that" happened.

The only trouble was when "this" or "that" actually happened, he froze. All his plans and systems proved useless when the "this" that materialized wasn't exactly as he had planned.

I see a lot of that guy in George W. Bush. He has been making plans since 9/11. He's made all manner of plans to protect us against catastrophes. And, he's still at it. Today, for example, he's explaining his plan to protect us from bird flu.

But like my former partner, when "this" or "that" actually happens, Bush freezes, just as he froze the morning of 9/11 and in the wake of Katrina.

What of his many "plans?" Billions upon billions of dollars went into planning how to react if another 9/11-like catastrophic event occurred on American soil.

Then Hurricane Katrina hit and those plans didn't fit the model. Instead of protecting the victims of that catastrophe his mismatched plans victimized them further. Back at the office in D.C. the Bush team, plans in hand, engaged in an all-out Chinese fire drill as people in the affected states went thirsty, hungry and died.

Bush's planning knows no borders, either. After 9/11, President Bush busied himself laying down plans to defeat Islamo-Fascism in the Middle East. He made lists of people and countries and set goals. Among those goals was to democratize the whole damn region. On paper, it looked great. On the ground, it was another of this administration's Keystone Cops operations. Because, you see, actual events on the ground refused to conform to his plan.

If Bush's plan-making has failed the nation and world, it's served him pretty well. Announcing highfalutin’ plans let George W. Bush appear as though he's doing his job. Busy, busy, busy. With a freshly hatched plan in hand he could give speeches, like the one he gave this morning explaining how he plans to protect Americans from the deadly bird flu. Not to worry, he said.

He's got a plan. He's even set up a bird flu pandemic Web site. Busy, busy, busy. Work, work, work.

Call me silly, but I worry. I worry that this is the same guy who couldn't even get bottles of plain water to thirsty victims in New Orleans. Now he's asking us to believe that if our families are struck by bird flu he will be there for us with life-saving medicines. He tells us not to stockpile Tamiflu. Just let him do it for us. (It will be shipped immediately -- on the same FEMA trucks that took ice bound for New Orleans to Maine.)

His abysmal planning record aside, there he was again yesterday morning, looking busy and making plans -- or as he likes to put it, "Getting down to work ... doin' what the American people elected me to do ... protecting them..."

Of course when "this" or "that" actually happens we all know now it's always back to the drawing board.

Remember his plan to "capture Osama bin Laden, dead or alive"? Well, Osama is still alive, and free.

Then there was his plan was liberate and democratize Afghanistan. American and NATO troops are still there fighting and dying. The day they leave is the day the Taliban crawl out of their caves and resume where they left off.

And of course there was his grandest plan -- liberate and democratize Iraq. Saddam is in jail but his followers and Islamo-Fascists from throughout the region have turned the entire country into the set for the next Mad Max movie. Bush's plan, it seems, didn't include any post-Saddam scenarios.

Ah yes, and let's not forget his plan to secure America's energy future. Congress passed Bush's energy plan earlier this year. Now gas and home heating fuel prices are at historic highs and his energy plan offers no solutions whatsoever. (Unless of course you're in the oil business, in which case you got $12 billion in tax cuts.)

I liked my former compulsive planning business partner. But I finally had to tell him that planning wasn't the same as doing. It's not about the quality of the plan, but the quality of its execution. Someone needs to break that bit of news to George as well because so far Bush's record of execution ranks right down there with that of his old pal Brownie. (You're doing a heck of bad job, Bushie....)

Bush's record of handling actual events hardly inspires confidence. Which is probably why Americans continue to find ways to stockpile their own stash of Tamiflu. They don't want to the next victims shown on CNN languishing in misery while the President announces a plan to fix the plan that was supposed to be helping them.

"Not to worry," Bush assures Americans. Forget about it. We all saw what happened in New Orleans and later in Texas and now in Florida. He'll have to pry the Tamiflu from my dead, cold fingers. Because, Tamiflu doesn't kill people. Bumbling politicians, like Bush and his Mayberry Militia cronies, kill people.

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