Hurricane Katrina and Bush's Legacy
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.
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.
Posted by: doctorj2u | January 15, 2009 8:48 PM
Posted by: mojofearless | January 15, 2009 9:41 PM
Posted by: doctorj2u | January 15, 2009 11:58 PM
Posted by: dummypants | January 22, 2009 7:41 PM