September 9, 2005

Maybe They Were Reading Times Editorials

"Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?" - New York Times editorial page, September 1.


"Anyone who cares about responsible budgeting and the health of America's rivers and wetlands should pay attention to a bill now before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The bill would shovel $17 billion at the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and other water-related projects - this at a time when President Bush is asking for major cuts in Medicaid and other important domestic programs. Among these projects is a $2.7 billion boondoggle on the Mississippi River that has twice flunked inspection by the National Academy of Sciences. The Government Accountability Office and other watchdogs accuse the corps of routinely inflating the economic benefits of its projects. And environmentalists blame it for turning free-flowing rivers into lifeless canals and destroying millions of acres of wetlands - usually in the name of flood control and navigation but mostly to satisfy Congress's appetite for pork. This is a bad piece of legislation." - New York Times editorial page, April 13.

MS Gov. Haley Barbour's Suspicious Praise of the Federal Government

"[Mississippi Gov. Haley] Barbour's praise of the federal efforts has put him at odds with some other Mississippi officials who have bemoaned the slow response in their areas and has put him at risk of sounding like a Pollyanna to Mississippians still struggling in the storm's aftermath. But the strategy is unsurprising for a canny political strategist like Mr. Barbour - a former political director in the Reagan White House, chairman of the Republican Party, and powerful Washington lobbyist - who won the governorship two years ago by in part emphasizing the strength of his close ties to President Bush." - Michael Cooper, September 7.

News or Editorial?

"The federal government's slow response to suffering inflicted by Hurricane Katrina, on top of the continued bloodshed in Iraq and high gasoline prices, has eaten into Mr. Bush's political strength, emboldening his opponents." - Richard Stevenson, September 6.

"Until Friday, Mr. Bush had all but invited the torrent of criticism that he was out of touch with the scale of the human tragedy unfolding in Louisiana, often sounding off-key in the context of what may prove to be the worst natural disaster the nation has suffered." - Richard Stevenson, September 3.

Keeping Bush on Defense

"Mr. Bush did not go into the heart of the city's devastation, where thousands of largely poor, black refugees have raged at the government's response to one of the worst natural disasters in American history. The White House cited security concerns and worries about causing more chaos as the reasons for keeping Mr. Bush away from the streets and the New Orleans Superdome, where refugees have lived in squalor and lawlessness for days.Throughout his day, Mr. Bush did not address the shocking images of the desperate and dying on television, even when he was asked by a reporter in Biloxi 'why the richest nation on earth can't get food and water to those people that need it.' Mr. Bush sidestepped the question and responded that helicopters had rescued people from rooftops and 'thousands of peoples' lives have been saved immediately, and that's good news.'" - Elisabeth Bumiller, September 3.

Katrina - Bush's Vietnam?

"Perhaps not since Richard M. Nixon faced Vietnam-era tumult abroad and at home has an American president had to meet quite the combination of foreign war, domestic tribulations and political division that President Bush now confronts, from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf Coast to Capitol Hill.Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has drawn intense fire from some conservatives, who see him as insufficiently opposed to abortion. But his up-by-the-bootstraps background might now have extraordinary appeal for a president facing criticism that he failed to show adequate sensitivity to, or even particular initial awareness of, the plight of the overwhelmingly poor and minority population left behind in New Orleans when the storm and flooding struck." - Todd Purdum, September 5.

How Dare Anyone Criticize N.O. Officials for N.O. Flooding

"In a reflection of what has long been a hallmark of Mr. Rove's tough political style, the administration is also working to shift the blame away from the White House and toward officials of New Orleans and Louisiana who, as it happens, are Democrats. 'The way that emergency operations act under the law is the responsibility and the power, the authority, to order an evacuation rests with state and local officials," Mr. Chertoff said in his television interview. 'The federal government comes in and supports those officials.' That line of argument was echoed throughout the day, in harsher language, by Republicans reflecting the White House line." - Adam Nagourney and Anne Kornblut, September 5.

Perhaps Because Most People in New Orleans are Black?

"Most of those left behind in New Orleans are black." - Text box to September 2 story by David Gonzalez.

Bush's "Imperial Act"

"Other Democrats cast Mr. Bush's first survey of the damage, from his window on Air Force One two days after the hurricane hit, as an imperial act removed from the suffering of the people below." - Elisabeth Bumiller, September 2.

Worthy of MoveOn.org

"The populism of Huey Long was financially corrupt, but when it came to the welfare of people, it was caring. The churchgoing cultural populism of George Bush has given the United States an administration that worries about the House of Saud and the welfare of oil companies while the poor drown in their attics and their sons and daughters die in foreign deserts." - Former Times Executive Editor Howell Raines in a column for the September 1 edition of the Los Angeles Times.

But Let's Do It Anyway

"But this seems like the wrong moment to dwell on fault-finding, or even to point out that it took what may become the worst natural disaster in American history to pry President Bush out of his vacation." - From an August 31 editorial.