Monday, December 12, 2005

Bush to New Orleans: "I'm Not a Racist"

There's a curious combination of news about New Orleans from yesterday:

The Associated Press reports on a Brian Williams interview with Pres. Bush in which Bush tells the NBC reporter that the slow and bungled response to Hurricane Katrina had nothing to do with the fact that New Orleans is (or was) a majority-black city, and that most of the survivors who couldn't get out of the city were black.

In an interview with "NBC Nightly News," Bush said he saw televised pictures showing the government's faltering response to Katrina, and that his first thought was that there was a breakdown of communications between all levels of government after the Aug. 29 hurricane.

"I heard, you know, a couple of people say ... 'Bush didn't respond because of race -- because he's a racist,' or alleged that," Bush said. "That is absolutely wrong. And I -- I reject that.'

"You can call me anything you want, but do not call me a racist. Secondly, this storm hit -- all up and down (the Gulf). It hit New Orleans. It hit Mississippi, too."

Well, it must be more than a couple of people. Because there's an editorial in yesterday's New York Times saying that New Orleans is about to die, and the Bush administration isn't doing anything about it:

We are about to lose New Orleans. Whether it is a conscious plan to let the city rot until no one is willing to move back or honest paralysis over difficult questions, the moment is upon us when a major American city will die, leaving nothing but a few shells for tourists to visit like a museum.

We said this wouldn't happen. President Bush said it wouldn't happen. He stood in Jackson Square and said, "There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans." But it has been over three months since Hurricane Katrina struck and the city is in complete shambles.

Judd at Think Progress quotes Washington Post reporter Mike Allen, speaking on "Meet the Press":

I'm going to tell you something to amaze you; it amazed me yesterday. The last time the president was in the hurricane region was October 11, two months ago. The president stood in New Orleans and said it was going to be one of the largest reconstruction efforts in the history of the world. You go to the White house home page, there's Barney camp, there's Social Security, there's Renewing Iraq. Where's renewing New Orleans? A presidential advisor told me that issue has fallen so far off the radar screen, you can't find it.

Liberal Oasis quotes Meet the Press's Tim Russert reading from the Washington Post article (dated November 29):

This city of [New Orleans] grapples with its new realities:

"More than 100,000 homes and businesses remain uninhabitable. More than three out of four residents live elsewhere.

"More than five million tons of storm debris is still on the ground.

"The power company is bankrupt. Workers are in short supply.

"Its first and so far only public school [just] reopened.

"The police force is in disarray. Scientists are recording alarming mold levels.

"Suburban suicide rates are spiking. Local doctors are operating out of tents."...

What kind of a country abandons one of its most historically rich and important cities while spending billions of dollars on a war 10,000 miles away? Tell us again, Mr. Bush: Is it really untrue that, for your administration, New Orleans is expendable because it's a majority black city?

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