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When George W finally got to New Orleans last September after Hurricane Katrina hit, he stood in Jackson Square to address the nation, declaring: “We will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives.”
Where’d that guy go?
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Five months later, Bush has forgotten New Orleans… and he hopes we will, too. In his state of the union speech, this unique American city was relegated to a four-sentence throwaway line at the very end. Now we have Bush’s budget, and his pledge to “do what it takes” turns out to be only the money already allocated – which doesn’t begin to touch the massive task of reconstruction.
Indeed, even that money is being frittered away by Bush’s hopelessly inept crew at FEMA. While thousands of New Orleans residents remain homeless, FEMA has failed to deliver even the temporary trailer homes that were promised months ago. These homes have been bought, but they’re on parking lots gathering dust, entangled in FEMA bureaucracy. Where’s the president? Why doesn’t he step in and lead?
A new report by the non-partisan Government Accounting Office asks these same questions about the Bushites’ bungled performance just before and after Katrina struck the Crescent City. The GAO investigation found that the failure began at the top, with Bush ignoring the early warnings, doing nothing to ensure that the city and state had adequate plans to save lives, and failing to put a top-ranking White House official in charge.
Even Republicans are appalled. Rep. Tom Davis, usually a Bush ally, says that the White House knew “this was the big one,” yet, when the crunch came, “Bush is in Texas. [Chief of staff Andrew] Card is in Maine. The vice-president is fly-fishing. I mean, who’s in charge here?”
This is Jim Hightower saying… George still fails to take charge. With this guy in the White House, you’d better pray that no disaster hits your city.
“GAO lays Katrina blame on White House,” The Washington Post, February 2, 2006.
“Storm Victims Face DeLay to Get Trailers,” The New York Times, February 9, 2006.