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Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
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Hurricane Katrina and Bush's Legacy

POSTED: 05:55 PM ET, 01/15/2009 by Derek Kravitz

President Bush tours Hurricane Katrina damage done to the Biloxi, Miss., area in September 2005. (Reuters / Larry Downing)

As we know now, Bush said he didn't get the weather report and there's video of him getting the weather report, whether it sunk in or not. And that was a symbol.

Bob Woodward

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,800 people and leaving the city of New Orleans a shell of its former self. In the aftermath, the Bush administration's disaster performance was widely criticized.

A 379-page House committee report (PDF) on Hurricane Katrina, dubbed "A Failure of Initiative," laid blame on both New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, but also on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's "mishandling" of its rescue and recovery operations.

We are left scratching our heads at the range of inefficiency and ineffectivness that characterized government behavior right before and after this storm. But passivity did the most damage. The failure of initiative cost lives, prolonged suffering, and left all Americans justifiably concerned our government is no better prepared to protect its people than it was before 9/11, even if we are.

Bush eventually acknowledged that the federal government made mistakes, but his statements didn't keep his post-hurricane approval ratings from falling frmo 60 percent to 49 percent by mid-September.

The Bush-Cheney Legacy
The Washington Post's key coverage of George W. Bush's presidency, plus, a roundtable discussion by the Post's Bob Woodward and Barton Gellman.

Since then, New Orleans has recovered somewhat, with its population up to 60 percent of what it was before the storm. A few neighborhoods are doing well, the music and restaurant scenes are recovering and sales tax revenue is nearing normal. But parts of New Orleans still look decimated and rents have soared along with crime rates.

"We're still paying attention. We understand," Bush said in New Orleans on the two-year anniversary of the disaster. Later in Mississippi: "We haven't forgotten, and won't."

Bob Woodward, the investigative reporter who has interviewed Bush several times for his four books on the president, attributed some of the problems with the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina to the Bush administration's "failure to understand and involve yourself in details so you make the right decisions."

"What was so interesting about the response was that they couldn't recover in time to kind of show real leadership and an identification with the agony you witnessed firsthand," Woodward said.

By Derek Kravitz |  January 15, 2009; 5:55 PM ET The Bush-Cheney Legacy
Previous: Geithner Offered Early Notice on Tax Troubles | Next: Warrantless Wiretapping Upheld, 'Conscience Rights' Challenged, Scathing Report on Immigrant Death


Please email us to report offensive comments.

My world was destroyed by Katrina, but the biggest heartbreak for me (and I do not use that word lightly) was the abandonment and betrayal by my own country. I knew we were in trouble as soon as President Bush said he would leave it up to the local governments to rebuild. In such devastation there is no such thing as local government and President Bush knew that! He abdicated the role of leadership we voted him in to do. Instead of leadership for an American tragedy, he turned the reigns over to Karl Rove to spin the ugly political spin, all the while letting a section odf America suffer. And for what? All to protect his own butt, and I will HATE him forever for that. He as a coward!!! Oh, and did I mention I voted for Bush twice and defended him abroad? I was a FOOL for doing so. He has EARNED the right of being the WORST president in this country's long history. I just wish he was "aware" enough to understand it.

Posted by: doctorj2u | January 15, 2009 8:48 PM

I'm with you on hating Bush. As someone who survived Katrina, lost everything to Katrina, was a first responder during Katrina and has struggled to restablish myself in the town my family has called home for five generations, let me tell you... I HATE BUSH. The only thing that got me through Katrina was the grace of God and the overwhelming empathy of the American people.
Bush didn't want to respond to fellow Americans on their knees? Fine. I didn't expect anything less than having to take care of my own. That's the way I was raised. But his administration didn't just fail to respond, they got in the way at every turn. Sending our ice to Idaho? Ordering our boats to stand down? Diverting our boats so that the refineries could be staffed while people literally steamed to death in their attics, waiting, praying? It was really simple, Mr. Bush: you just had to let us bring ice and water in/people out/ice and water in/people out... all day long. How hard is that?
And the only time I ever saw FEMA was when they were sneering down at a dying woman, telling me that we were in the way of their operations. WHAT OPERATIONS? Your let-these-people-die operations? Every time I see the chemical burns scars on my feet, I seethe with hate for you, and they're never going away, Mr. Bush. Never. That water receded, but we're all damaged in some way from it.
You gave all your Iraq War buddies fat no bid contracts in the early days of our recovery, and then we got blamed for wasting money. 175 bucks a square to tarp a roof? What is that? It's disgusting. You let contractors stuff our flood walls full of newspaper and called it fixed. I still can't believe it. But it's true. There's your money, America... the federal contractors stuffed our storm defenses full of newspaper. Look it up. It's true. You stood in the way every chance you got, Mr. Bush. And I can never forgive you for that. Here in New Orleans, we will dance the day your sorry ass dies.

Posted by: mojofearless | January 15, 2009 9:41 PM

I will join you in that dance.

Posted by: doctorj2u | January 15, 2009 11:58 PM

i have yet to hear anybody challange Bush's figure that 30,000 people were saved off roofs after the storm.

sounds like a pretty damn good storm response to me.

i suspect that this chapter of the bush presidency will undergo quite a dramatic rewriting once anderson cooper types give way to professional historians.

Posted by: dummypants | January 22, 2009 7:41 PM

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