I’m glad the President is dropping by the Coast to check on things. I just wanted to let him know that sky-high insurance costs are drowning many people’s hope of rebuilding their lives.
The content of the the related Op-Ed is very painful for blind Bushie lovers though:
As President Bush gave his upbeat take on the Coast’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina on Wednesday, he must somewhere deep inside wonder how he got into such a fix – or how it all went so wrong.
From the very first, the storm was a nightmare for his presidency, starting with his ignoring the reports in Crawford, Texas, that a potentially devastating storm was heading for the Gulf Coast.
A later video tape of his being briefed about the storm contradicted his assertions that he knew nothing about it.
Then, there was the storm hitting, and his people who were charged with handling the emergency couldn’t even decide the extent of the damage – even denying the levee at New Orleans had been breached, while news crews showed live footage of water streaming into the 9th Ward.
Then, there was the aftermath, when Mississippians were struggling without food, water, basics. And the most Bush could do was a “flyover” and praise “Brownie,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency chief who was as clueless about the extent of the damage as his agency was inept.
Finally, there was Bush in New Orleans, Sept. 15, 2005, giving a live prime time speech apologizing for the poor response, accepting responsibility, and pledging his full support to make the region “whole.”
That speech, three years later, is worth remembering. He described the hurricane’s aftermath as “days of sorrow and outrage,” where the nation had “witnessed the kind of desperation no citizen of this great and generous nation should ever have to know.”
He promised that “the streets of Biloxi and Gulfport will again be filled with lovely homes and the sound of children playing.”
He said the goal was to get evacuees out of temporary FEMA shelters by mid-October and into apartments and other homes.
“The work that has begun in the Gulf Coast region will be one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen,” Bush pledged. And the people believed him.
Then, he went back to Washington and it was business as usual.
Were it not for Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, then chairman of the Appropriations Committee, promising to hold up the billions of dollars Bush wanted for Iraq, and Gov. Haley Barbour’s lobbying, the money that Bush is now taking credit for providing would not have happened. Bush actually threatened to veto the funds Congress sought in December 2005.
Now, rebuilding is stalled because insurance is unavailable or unaffordable and reform sponsored by 4th District U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Bay St. Louis, was killed by Bush’s veto threats. Even now, thousands still live in “temporary” FEMA quarters.
The Coast is still waiting, as Bush promised the nation and the world, for the homes of Biloxi and Gulfport to be rebuilt and for the sounds of children playing to return.
The reconstruction Bush promised never came, due in no small part to his actions. And no amount of cheerful words will remove that, or make the region “whole.”