Katrina: Four Stories of Bush Failure
With the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Americans can expect an onslaught of grim retrospectives and even gloomier forecasts for the Gulf Coast. Stories recalling the destruction of New Orleans, the calamitous response of the Bush White House, rampant corruption in the storm's wake and the proposals of the 2008 presidential candidates will flood the web, the airwaves and the printed page.
Perrspectives, too, is here to offer its look back on the Katrina disaster and the death of New Orleans with four pieces from 2005. First, Perrspectives looked at the budget trade-offs and funding cutbacks that imperiled New Orleans vulnerable levee system. Next, a quick comparison to election year 2004 in Florida showed the Bush administration can indeed handle hurricane management, if only in battleground states governed by the President's brother. Then, Perrspectives examined the Republican plans to convert the decimated Gulf Coast into a laboratory for every rejected right-wing policy nostrum from school vouchers to no "prevailing wage" payments, all while enabling the unbridled cronyism that defines the Bush presidency. Last, I reflected on the missing ingredient in President Bush's Katrina PR disaster - the Lisa Beamer of New Orleans.
"New Orleans Pays the Death Tax" (8/31/05)
After a storm in 1995 killed six people, major work was needed to improve the levee system. In response, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA), which alotted 10 years and $430 million to the Army Corps of Engineers to build new pumping stations and repairing the levee system.
The warning signs were clear: think of it as the equivalent of President Bush receiving a presidential daily brief titled, "Category 5 Hurricane Determined to Strike in U.S." And yet in 2003, the SELA funds slowed to a trickle. The Army Corps' funding in New Orleans was slashed to due to the twin constraints of the Iraq war and the budget deficit. By Febuary 2004, President Bush proposed cutting SELA spending by 80%...(more)
"FEMA: Florida Election Management Agency" (9/5/05)
Mel Brooks once said, "it's good to be king." Well when it comes to hurricanes, it's even better being the President's brother. Especially in a vital swing state. In an election year.
Louisiana's Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco is learning that the hard way. While her state suffered through a disastrous, disorganized and delayed response to Katrina from FEMA and the Bush administration, Florida governor Jeb Bush had no such problems as his state weathered four hurricanes in 2004...(more)
"Where's the Lisa Beamer of New Orleans?" (9/8/05)
The Bush White House, if nothing else, is a marketing machine, a triumph of style over substance. In the summer of 2002, Bush Chief of Staff Andy Card admitted as much, declaring the time for selling the planned war with Iraq was not yet ripe, "from a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."
Therein lies the problem for President Bush in the marketing of his administration's abysmal response to hurricane Katrina. Bush has no product. Even worse, he has no pitch man, or worse still, pitch woman. In a nutshell, George W. Bush needs the Lisa Beamer of New Orleans. But unlike 9/11, in New Orleans, the color of suffering - and heroism - is black. And while his father at least tried to speak fondly of "the little brown ones", President Bush can't even muster that...(more)
"Trojan Horse: The Bush Plan for Katrina" (9/19/05)
Last Thursday's speech by President Bush in New Orleans' Jackson Square kicked off the administration's cynical campaign to snatch political victory from the jaws of defeat in the wake of its disastrous Katrina response. Karl Rove's strategy for the coming 2006 mid-term elections will modeled on his 2002 GOP success with the Department of Homeland Security. With the Gulf States devastated, hundreds dead and thousands displaced, President Bush and the GOP will lace a popular recovery program featuring massive federal spending with a laundry list of conservative initiatives damned by the left and previously rejected by the American people. Putting politics before the people of the Gulf Coast, President Bush will then dare the Democrats to block them...(more)