I am sick of hearing even conservatives blame primarily Bush for the inefficient and insufficient response to the Katrina disaster. There was plenty of blame to go around, (Brownie was definitely the wrong man for the job of FEMA Director) but it was mostly a failure on the part of local officials like Mayor Nagan and Governor Blanco, who neglected to evacuate the city before the storm. Bush’s greatest failure was his, “Brownie, you’re doing heckova job”, comment.” It made him appear clueless and disengaged.
Fact Check. org has a timeline of the events leading up to Katrina and its aftermath, here.
The hurricane hit on a Monday, August 29. On that Wednesday, Bush cut short his vacation in Crawford, and flew over the area to survey the damage from Air Force One as he traveled from Texas back to Washington, D.C. On Friday, he visited the Gulf Coast. He signed a $10.5 billion relief package within four days of the hurricane.
Was he supposed to drop everything and fly down to New Orleans while the storm was still surging? Did Obama interrupt his golf game, or his never-ending campaign for even one minute to do a flyover of the devastating flood in Nashville, last month? I’m not sure it’s fair to characterize Bush’s response to Katrina, “terrible”.
But Dick Morris did just that in an oped he wrote for The Hill, this morning, Obama doesn’t have a clue:
Conservatives are so enraged at Obama’s socialism and radicalism that they are increasingly surprised to learn that he is incompetent as well. The sight of his blithering and blustering while the most massive oil spill in history moves closer to America’s beaches not only reminds one of Bush’s terrible performance during Katrina, but calls to mind Jimmy Carter’s incompetence in the face of the hostage crisis.
But as Peter Ferrara noted yesterday in his piece in The American Spectator:
In the response to Hurricane Katrina, federal law specifically provided that the then Democrat Governor of Louisiana and Mayor of New Orleans were in charge. The federal and FEMA role was to “support…state and local assistance efforts” with the necessary, primarily financial resources. Nevertheless, in the days after the hurricane, President Bush’s federal government was the only functioning authority, as the Coast Guard rescued 30,000 people off of rooftops. Hundreds of school buses that could have been used to whisk those people out of harm’s way were left ruined under water due to Mayor Nagin’s inaction in response to federal hurricane warnings.
Unfortunately for President Bush, as Jack Cashill notes, the narrative had been written, a narrative that unfairly blamed Bush for everything that went wrong (real or imagined) in the wake of Katrina:
Democratic loyalists and their media allies had for the first time in history bestowed ownership of a hurricane on a president, and they did this even before Katrina made landfall.
After the hurricane hit, this same unholy cabal largely exempted the Democratic mayor and governor from responsibility and attributed all their failures, as well as the routine shortcomings of any federal operation, to President Bush personally.
By the time the media finished slicing and dicing Bush, they had people in New Orleans thinking that Karl Rove had blown up the dikes and Bush himself, in the memorable words of singer Kanye West, had given the military “permission to go down and shoot us.”
Cashill agrees with Morris, however, in that Obama’s response to the Gulf oil spill is more reminiscent of Carter’s response to the Iraian hostage crisis:
This is “Obama’s Iranian hostage crisis.” The Katrina folly ended after a few days. Today, on day 40-something and counting, this is the folly that keeps on embarrassing.
Jimmy Carter can sympathize. For the 444 unhappy days after his new Islamic friends seized our embassy and took the workers hostage, the media microscope zoomed in on his presidential warts.
Although Carter was never much fun to begin with, he could allow himself none while his misunderstood buddies humiliated him and us before the world. The crisis eventually cost him the presidency.
Now, this crisis is magnifying the weaknesses of Obama’s presidency, one of which is his fatal reliance on what is sometimes called “Maslow’s hammer.” Said psychologist Abraham Maslow some years back, “It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
Given that Obama, like so many prominent Democrats – Michelle, both Clintons, Kerry, the late Ted Kennedy, John Edwards – is a lawyer surrounded by other lawyers, the tool he has at hand is the lawsuit.
Accordingly, from day 1, Obama has spent his energy not on fixing the problem, but on fixing the blame. He seems to have no greater goal than finding someone to sue or maybe, if AG Eric Holder gets lucky, even imprison.
But unlike health-care reform or financial regulation, Obama cannot just hold a few hearings, harass a few people and pretend he has solved the problem. This problem is just too real.
One action Obama has taken does nothing to solve the problem, and makes things worse for thousands of Louisiana families:
The Hayride: How Bad Is Obama’s Offshore Exploration Ban?
The National Ocean Industries Association released a statement yesterday assessing the damage, citing a report from the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association which found that as many as 1,400 jobs could be lost per rig prevented from operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Two-thirds of the 33 rigs affected by the ban operate off Louisiana…
He’s hammering away at the wrong target, again.