Rita in Texas, Protesters in D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Bush was to have visited Texas on Friday, where he could have seen the 100 miles gridlock caused by 2.5 million people trying to flee Hurricane Rita. And he could have seen one more time a dreadful mess caused by FEMA. But then he canceled, because he didn't want to, you know, get in the way.

This weekend is a trying one for the president. He can’t go back to Washington, where the fired up anti-war marchers are preparing for their huge march on the White House. That scene’s badeEnough for Bush, but in addition the International Monetary Fund will be holding its annual meeting here, and in the past that has proved to be an incendiary occasion for anarchists to get down and dirty with the D.C. police.

Bush took this convergence of natural and geopolitical storms as an opportunity to fly to Colorado—yes, Colorado-safely away from the maelstrom. There he will visit the headquarters of the Northern Command at Peterson Air Force base in Colorado Springs. This command was set up in 2002 to run the U.S. land, sea, and air defenses. Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said the stop “will give him a firsthand look at the Northern Command and how the military is assisting in federal response to Hurricane Rita.”

Yesterday the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, asked Bush to put 10,000 regular army troops on standby to help out. Paul McHale, assistant secretary of defense for Homeland Security said, “This time we want to do more than watch TV.”

Glad to hear it, guys.

Fortunately, the Coast Guard, not the military, is in direct charge of disaster operations in both New Orleans and now in Texas. Unfortunately, the Coast Guard is burdened by the byzantine FEMA, which will choke to death anything it touches.

On 9-11 Bush also avoided going back to Washington before the skies were safe. He didn’t go near New York for days. After he spoke to grade schoolers in Florida, the president hopped about from a military bunker in Louisiana to the continental defense HQ in the Middle West. He has been much criticized for his flyover of the hurricane stricken New Orleans. How will the nation cotton to this new skipping around, with a president jetting around in safety while thousands remain trapped on the roads?

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