by John Hawkins | September 12, 2005 4:49 am
“If we weren’t prepared, and we didn’t do our part, no amount of work by FEMA could overcome the lack of preparation.” — Jeb Bush
Since Katrina hit, the partisan mainstream media has spent a great deal of time trying to exploit the hurricane to attack the Bush administration. So, while Kathleen Blanco & Ray Nagin, who are responsible for 95% of the problems in the New Orleans disaster, have largely gotten a free ride, FEMA and President Bush have been the recipients of non-stop criticism since Katrina hit.
Well, let’s examine how much sense that makes. Let’s take a closer look at the media’s #1 whipping boy, FEMA Director Michael Brown, and let’s also take a hard look at Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco.
Brown is a Republican who’s terrible on TV & who also apparently lied on his fairly unimpressive resume. Yet under his watch, FEMA, which is not a first responder and tells state & local governments up front that it will take 72-96 hours to get in the game, improved immeasurably and probably turned in its best performance ever after Katrina.
On the other hand, Blanco and Nagin are Democrats whose lack of planning for a hurricane put thousands of lives unnecessarily at risk. Of course, given the liberal bias of the mainstream media, it’s no big surprise that Brown and by extension, his boss George W. Bush, are the ones the MSM is pointing a finger towards.
Here’s the way I look at it: if Brown would have been replaced before Katrina, what difference would it have made? Well, FEMA would have come across better on TV, but their performance wouldn’t have been much different because other than a few of the sort of ridiculous snafus that are typical in massive bureaucracies, they did what they were supposed to do after a disaster and then some.
On the other hand, if let’s say Rudy Giuliani were the mayor of New Orleans and Haley Barbour had been the governor, what would the differences have been?
Well, New Orleans buses would have rolled before the storm, perhaps saving thousands of people, and those same buses would have been parked outside the Superdome afterwards so that the building could be evacuated. The Superdome and the convention center would have had supplies in place beforehand and security inside both buildings would have stayed under control. Furthermore, by late Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon after the storm, both buildings would have been completely evacuated except for any last minute stragglers who made their way there.
There would have been some looting & violence in New Orleans, but because of a police crackdown and a fast call-up of the National Guard by the governor, the overwhelming majority of the chaos and anarchy in the city would have been quelled by late Monday, early Tuesday instead of on late Friday, early Saturday, when the military arrived.
The body count? It would have been well under a thousand. The media coverage? FEMA would have come in for a little criticism, but there would probably have been plenty of serious questions about whether those two Republicans, “Rudy Giuliani & Barbour,” did enough for the people of New Orleans. George Bush would have, of course, still been blamed, but mainly it would have been for showing that he “didn’t care” by not flying over the area soon enough.
Sound implausible to you?
Well, it’s funny that FEMA, under Mike Brown, has dealt with plenty of other big hurricanes without the sort of problems we saw in New Orleans occurring. Remember the hurricanes that ravaged Florida last year? Where were the endless complaints there? Even now, why are we not hearing complaint after complaint about FEMA botching things up in Mississippi? Could it be that the other cities affected had mayors in charge who understood their responsibilities after a natural disaster? Could it be that these other states had governors that were competent and planned ahead for hurricanes? The difference in New Orleans was in part because of the severity of the disaster, but it was also because of the incompetence of the local officials.
Now was FEMA perfect? No, but their mistakes were piffles compared to the catastrophic failures of Kathleen Blanco & Ray Nagin. Every major failure after Katrina, every single one of them, was made on the local level, not by FEMA. Unfortunately, much of the liberal mainstream media has chosen political partisanship over informing the public of the truth and that’s too bad.
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