The news media may be doing the Democratic Party a huge disservice by convincing them that everyone hates President Bush as much as they do.
It helps them live more and more in their own cocoon, providing a possibly false impression Katrina wiped out their hated president, even though a new poll indicates that this isn’t quite correct.
It also allows them to avoid looking hard at failures on a local level in New Orleans, a city badly in need of being fixed long before Katrina hit.
“The vultures of the venomous left are attacking on two fronts,” writes Wes Pruden of the Washington Times, “first that the president didn’t do what the incompetent mayor of New Orleans and the pouty governor of Louisiana should have done, and didn’t, in the early hours after Katrina loosed the deluge on the city that care and good judgment forgot. Ray Nagin, the mayor, ordered a ‘mandatory’ evacuation a day late, but kept the city’s 2,000 school buses parked and locked in neat rows when there was still time to take the refugees to higher ground. The bright-yellow buses sit ruined now in four feet of dirty water. Then the governor, Kathleen Blanco, resisted early pleas to declare martial law, and her dithering opened the way for looters, rapists and killers to make New Orleans an unholy hell. Gov. Haley Barbour did not hesitate in neighboring Mississippi, and looters, rapists and killers have not turned the streets of Gulfport and Biloxi into killing fields.
“The drumbeat of partisan ingratitude continues even after the president flooded the city with National Guardsmen from a dozen states, paratroopers from Fort Bragg and Marines from the Atlantic and the Pacific. The flutter and chatter of the helicopters above the ghostly abandoned city, some of them from as far away as Singapore and averaging 240 missions a day, is eerily reminiscent of the last days of Saigon. Nevertheless, Sen. Mary Landrieu, who seems to think she’s cute when she’s mad, even threatened on national television to punch out the president — a felony, by the way, even as a threat. Mayor Nagin, who you might think would be looking for a place to hide, and Gov. Blanco, nursing a bigtime snit, can’t find the right word of thanks to a nation pouring out its heart and emptying its pockets. Maybe the senator should consider punching out the governor, only a misdemeanor.”
John Tierney of the New York Times compares the local response in Virginia to an earlier hurricane to that last week in New Orleans and finds New Orleans officials wanting:
“Mr. [Jim] Judkins is one of the officials in charge of evacuating the Hampton Roads region around Newport News, Va. These coastal communities, unlike New Orleans, are not below sea level, but they’re much better prepared for a hurricane. Officials have plans to run school buses and borrow other buses to evacuate those without cars, and they keep registries of the people who need special help.
“Instead of relying on a ‘Good Samaritan’ policy — the fantasy in New Orleans that everyone would take care of the neighbors — the Virginia rescue workers go door to door. If people resist the plea to leave, Mr. Judkins told The Daily Press in Newport News, rescue workers give them Magic Markers and ask them to write their Social Security numbers on their body parts so they can be identified.
“‘It’s cold, but it’s effective,’ Mr. Judkins explained.
“That simple strategy could have persuaded hundreds of people to save their own lives in New Orleans. What the city needed most was coldly effective local leaders, not a president in Washington who could feel their pain. It’s the same lesson we should have learned from Sept. 11 and other disasters, yet both liberals and conservatives keep ignoring it.
“The liberals bewailing the insensitivity and racism of Republicans in Washington sound like a bad rerun of the 1960’s, when urban riots were blamed on everyone but the rioters and the police. Yes, the White House did a terrible job of responding to Katrina, but Democratic leaders in New Orleans and Louisiana didn’t even fulfill their basic duties.”