Some of the commentators on this blog have been repeating the GOP talking point that the Mayor of New Orleans didn’t order an evacuation until after GW Bush pleaded with him to do so. Not only is this false, but people pushing this line should beware the logical nutcracker of Daily Kos: Where Turd Blossom Goes, A Talking Point Blooms. It turns out that this talking point has a real sting in the tail:
Following the lie, however, we see that in order to even argue the point, you have to agree with a whole litany of other points:
- That President Bush himself, as well as presumably his entire team, knew full well that Katrina was a devastating storm requiring mass evacuations in front of it, and one which would wreak catastrophic damage.
- And yet President Bush, and the rest of his cabinet, remained on vacation while they knew that.
- And yet FEMA was utterly unprepared, apparently, to offer assistance for it.
- And yet Homeland Security did, apparently, nothing to ensure FEMA was prepared to offer assistance for it.
- And yet in spite of apparently knowing the danger to New Orleans in specific, both the President and the administrator of FEMA were completely unaware that anyone had “foreseen” that the levees would fail — and apparently was only monitoring the levee condition via newspaper headlines.
- And yet, in the days following the storm, the FEMA director insisted that he wasn’t even aware 15,000 evacuees had fled to the New Orleans convention center, a designated shelter area, until he was told by reporters.
- And yet, FEMA continued to reject assistance and turn rescuers away during the most critical days after the storm.
So for the sake of argument, fine: let’s grant the central premise the White House was following the dangerous progress of Katrina well in advance, and urged evacuations. Let’s grant the premise that they were “ready” for this storm, according to the standards that Bush set for himself. On vacation. While receiving ceremonial guitars.
Does that make the now-universally-recognized-as-inadequate administration response better? Or spectacularly worse?
[Just to be clear: I am NOT saying that this settles the question of whether the evacuation was tardy (in hindsight it certainly seems to have been) or well-executed (it wasn’t), and most certainly not that it was well-planned. ]
Incidentally, the suggestion in some the comments that the feds had tons of resources ready to go just sitting there on hair trigger notice, waiting only for the incompetent local officials to request them before they would instantly pour in is also ludicrously at odds with reality as reported by any reputable news source with which I am familiar. But I look forward to the report of a fair and independent inquiry to sort truth from fiction.
The total plan from top to bottom failed including local, state and federal officials. Afteraction reports show that we are not in any position to blame others because our own states may be just as flawed given a wholesale emergency to handle. Rebuilding is open to big questions. No building should take place on wetlands, levees are no solution to an environmentally untenable problem. Allen McQuarrie