BEHIND THE CURTAIN….George Bush’s photo-op tour of New Orleans yesterday has apparently driven Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu over the edge. Today she blasted FEMA for its feeble response to Hurricane Katrina and Bush for his phony, stage managed promises of action:
I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims ? far more efficiently than buses ? FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency.
But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast ? black and white, rich and poor, young and old ? deserve far better from their national government.
I’m almost worn out with anger reading about the decimation of FEMA under Bush’s watch; the pathetic lack of response to Katrina from the federal government; the relentless television images of human degradation; and the endless excuses from administration hacks pretending that nobody could have predicted Katrina’s devastation. I realize that it’s no different from what’s been happening in Iraq for the past two years, but Iraq is 8,000 miles away and the truth is that no matter how angry we are at what’s going on there, it’s to some extent an intellectual anger. What’s happening in New Orleans is like a punch in the gut.
What Jon Chait said about Iraq last week is perhaps even truer about New Orleans. The hallmarks of the Bush/Rove governing philosophy ? partisan discipline, industry giveaways, and relentless lying ? work pretty well as long as you can disguise the results of your policies. When you can’t, it suddenly becomes obvious even to your supporters that the emperor has no clothes. It’s taken two years for a lot of people to realize that about Iraq. It’s taken less than a week to realize it about New Orleans.
UPDATE: Good God. Laura Rozen passes along the following report from a Dutch reader:
There was a striking dicrepancy between the CNN International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV.
ZDF News reported that the president’s visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of ‘news people’ had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.
The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF.
This goes beyond stage management. This is criminal.
UPDATE 2: Over at Respectful of Otters, Rivka posts a more definitive translation of the ZDF report. It turns out the ZDF reporter was talking about the staging of cleanup and corpse removal in Biloxi, not food distribution points in New Orleans.