Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Ford On Imus: We Must Empower The Poor

This morning Congressman Harold Ford Jr. made a guest appearance on MSNBC's Imus In The Morning.

Imus and Congressman Ford discussed a number of issues including the hurricane relief efforts, the Supreme Court hearings, and Ford's Senate campaign.

Ford also discussed poverty in the United States today. He gave some staggering stats that demonstrated just how many people are now below the poverty line and said he hoped the nation would take a hard look at empowerment programs for the poor and working people in the United States.

The Congressman also said something that I that I agree with 100% and that was that a nation is truly measured by how it treats the "least, trapped, and the disenfranchised." I think we should all have that mindset.

We must remember that we are all in this together as brothers and sisters. Everyone should be equal in the eyes of our government and everyone should have an equal opportunity to achieve the American dream. That is is the foundation on which this great nation was founded upon, and I for one am proud Congressman Ford is fighting for that.

Below is an excerpt of today's interview:

Imus: "Kanye West said that George Bush doesn't care about black people and I was talking to Tim Russert and I said you know I don't think that's true. I just don't think that he cares enough about them. What I mean by that is I don't believe in my heart that anybody would have put 20,000 or whatever it was white people in the Superdome and I believe that the reason that the government and these various agencies from the New Orleans Mayor on up, felt that they had the luxury, this may not have been a conscious decision on their part but I think that just inherent in the fabric of their soles, they felt that they had the luxury to argue with one another about what was gong to be done and that they didn't feel the sense of urgency because most of the people were poor and most of the people were black. That's what I believe."

Rep. Harold Ford Jr.: "I believe that had the people been wealthier and had more influence and means we would have had a team of experts and military folks and health experts on the ground immediately. It's hard for me to say and I don't believe that President Bush is racist..."

Imus: "I don't either. I just don't think that he cares enough."

Ford: "That's probably a better way of saying it. If you think about the disaster, if you think about the tragedy of 9/11, remember, Rudy Giuliani, whatever ones feelings are about him and his politics and mine don't line up at all but he showed great leadership shortly after 9/11. Had it not been for his leadership, it's unlikely in my mind, in light of what happened in New Orleans, if President Bush would have been able to step up with the kind of commanding leadership the country wanted. Remember it took the President almost a day to figure out what to do. He flew to two or three different places before flying back to Washington."

Imus: "His primary concern when anything happens is his own preservation."

Ford: "Right. That day he flew to I think Louisiana for a little while, then flew to Nebraska. I mean the President of the United States when your country is under attack is suppose to look the secret service in the eye and say, 'Put three f-16's on my wing and fly me back to Washington, I'm the President and I'm not running from anybody.' Now you look at what happened on 9/11 and then you compare it to this. What he was missing was that he didn't have quite the right leadership on the ground in New Orleans and they were somewhat handicapped. To the fairness to Mayor Nagins, there were floods there so it was hard to move around. Now, I'm not defending that leadership there but I just think that when the Federal government signs or when the President signs the declaration they have to go to work. Had these people been wealthier people, I agree with what something you said last week that if this had happened in New York we would have floated those big naval ships right down fifth avenue and asked everybody to jump out of those buildings, jump onto the boats and people would have done it. The question we have now is, again I don't mean to let the President off the hook at all is to get this thing figured out now, figure out how this doesn't happen again. I hope the country is willing now to take a hard look at the initiatives and empowerment programs that we have in place to help working people and many of these poor people and many of these middle class and poor middle class people down in New Orleans..these are working people. I mean you work 40-50 hours a week and you hear disaster is coming and you can't take your children and you can't take your family to safety, then something is wrong with the country and something is wrong with us to not realize this and to not act on it."