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Like a frat boy in love with Mardi Gras, George W just can’t get enough of New Orleans. Last month, he made his 15th trip to the Crescent City in the past two years!
Like his other trips, however, the constant tourist only popped in for a couple of quickie photo ops to try to bolster his own political image – not to do anything that would really lead this hard hit city to revitalization. In his brief visit, Bush showered the media with a gusher of statistics to show that he’s been doing “a heck of a job” in getting federal help to the people. “There’s been a lot of progress made, and that’s what people have got to understand,” he loudly declared.
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Well, actually George, if a lot of progress really had been made, people would already understand it, since they would see it and wouldn’t need you to make 15 trips to tell them something that’s obviously not true.
Bush trumpeted the $114 billion he has provided to the Gulf Coast states hit by Katrina. But only about $75 billion of that has actually been spent by FEMA and other agencies, and nearly all of that went to disaster relief – not to rebuilding. Another fact unmentioned by Bush is that about half of his allocation is going to Mississippi, even though Louisiana had three times as many damaged homes, devastated schools, and destroyed infrastructure.
If George had wanted to portray a true picture of conditions, he could have noted that only 60 percent of the city’s population has been able to return, a third of the hospitals remain closed, good jobs are scarce, whole sections are boarded up or abandoned, and such essentials as schools, transportation, libraries, and child care are at half their original levels.
The one bright spot in all of this is the indomitable spirit of the people of New Orleans. Even Bush’s self-serving visits and lack of real help has not been able to tamp that down.