To the political left “which way did they go George” is the biggest gift in 80 years. A quick sampling courtesy of Editilla and the Times Picayune.
First off is a particularily insightful post over at We Could be Famous. I’ve been threatening to redo our blogroll for a while now. Consider this is a sneak peek because these guys are in when I get around to re-arranging the left sidebar. A short snippet:
It has been quite frustrating as a progressive living in New Orleans. Here’s part of what I think happened:
Within the first few weeks of the storm, conservative talk radio had effectively galvanized listener opinion against storm victims. They intoned against victims of Katrina, simultaneously using racial imagery to depict victims of the federal flood and of slow administration response as responsible for their own predicament while pushing back hard against a caricatured interpretation of Kanye West’s allegations of overt racism on the part of the administration.
While the vast majority of the American public tithed generously and remained largely sympathetic, the larger Right found refuge from accountability on the issues of poverty and race within the bosom of their base. This proved to be enough political cover to kill Democratic efforts for an independent commission on the Bush administration’s Katrina response.
There was partisan stalemate in Washington. Democrats were in the minority and Republicans had enough juice from their base to limit federal intervention into the recovery process. President Bush and Karl Rove worked on doing public opinion damage control while the GOP caucus worked on limiting the ability of Congressional Democrats to claim that they’d won any victories on the matter.
Next stop is the Times Picayune and today’s editorial which minces no words:
The U.S. Coast Guard, indeed, performed thousands of heroic rescues after the storm. But it’s indisputable that the rest of the federal bureaucracy failed miserably in aiding tens of thousands of people who waited days for water, food and evacuation. Even reports by the White House and Congress faulted the federal performance.
So did President Bush a few days after Katrina. “The results are not acceptable,” the president said Sept. 2, 2005, referring to the federal failure to timely deliver food and medicines to survivors.
In his memorable Jackson Square speech the following week, the president spoke of the suffering the country had witnessed after the storm, “the kind of desperation no citizen of this great and generous nation should ever have to know.” He added: “Americans have every right to expect a more effective response in a time of emergency.”
In the long run, the federal government has provided vital aid to help millions return and rebuild their Gulf Coast communities and will continue playing a crucial role in our recovery. As President Bush also said Monday, there’s still plenty to be done here.
But there ought to be no question that the government’s immediate response was slow and shameful.
This is more than a difference in semantics. Plenty of reforms are still needed at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal disaster-response entities. The last thing bureaucrats in those agencies need is the view that their performance during Katrina was fine.
It wasn’t. New Orleanians and the nation know it.
Campbell Brown knows the score too. A local girl made good she saw first hand Bushie’s failure:
Much of President Bush’s news conference today was a defense of the many controversial decisions of his presidency, it was also reflective, with the president showing a willingness to admit and talk about the serious mistakes made by this administration.
But on one topic in particular, he seemed almost entirely disconnected from what really happened: Hurricane Katrina. As someone who spent many days in New Orleans, Louisiana, after Hurricane Katrina, I was taken aback listening to the president talk about the government’s response.
I bet we’d hear about the same thing from CNN’s Kathleen Koch too, who was here on the coast very early on. Campbell continues:
“People said, ‘Well, the federal response was slow.’ Don’t tell me the federal response was slow when there was 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed. I remember going to see those helicopter drivers, Coast Guard drivers, to thank them for their courageous efforts to rescue people off roofs. Thirty-thousand people were pulled off roofs right after the storm moved through. It’s a pretty quick response. Could things have been done better? Absolutely. Absolutely. But when I hear people say, the federal response was slow, then what are they going to say to those chopper drivers, or the 30,000 that got pulled off the roofs?”
It is impossible to challenge what so many of us witnessed firsthand — what the entire country witnessed through television day and night: New Orleans was a city for a time abandoned by the government; where people old and young were left at the New Orleans convention center for days with no water or food.
People will disagree over aspects of the Bush legacy, but on the government’s handling of Katrina?
We were there.
The whole country saw what happened. People stuck on roofs were one part of a massive catastrophe. But there was so much else the government didn’t do. To this day that city is fighting for its life.
Mr. President, you cannot pat yourself on the back for that one.
We will debate the war in Iraq, national security, the economy and the rest of your legacy. Those debates will continue for years to come. But on how you handled Katrina, there is no debate.
The failures early on are many and unfortunately for our soon to be ex-president, too well documented for him to tap dance them away.
Now for some other worthy links: Rachel Maddow’s lame duck watch segment excoriates boy George along with the LA Times Op-ed page. Eugene Robinson at the WaPo wonders aloud, as I did earlier, why Bush didn’t try to highlight his actual accomplishments. In short the reviews are in and except for a couple of die hard 30 percenters it’s two big thumbs down for outgoing Mr Prez. History will judge them very well earned.