Wednesday, September 07, 2005

How Bush Bears Responsibility for New Orleans

As Scott points out, Bush supporters like Chris Hitchens are ridiculing attempts to pin blame on Bush for New Orleans. I think that it's important to be real specific here on what Bush deserves blame for in order to deflect fools like Hitchens. Here's a pretty incomplete list of reasons Bush bears responsibility.

1. Scientists had said for years that this a major hurricane would flood out New Orleans. Hell, even I had read this before and I am no scientist. Bush clearly had no clue that people had predicted this for decades. He was totally unprepared for the presiden...oh wait, I mean the hurricane.

2. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was on a conference call the Saturday before the storm where scientists had said that this very thing was going to happen to New Orleans. Between Saturday and Monday when the storm hit, approximately nothing was done.

3. The merging of FEMA into Homeland Security was a clear disaster. That Bush doesn't care about FEMA showed again through his naming a man as its head whose previous job was taking care of show horses.

4. The way Homeland Security money was divided has left places like New Orleans and New York underfunded for their possible disasters while North Dakota and Wyoming, likely targets for neither terrorists nor natural disasters are significantly overfunded. Bush could have used political muscle to see that this money was divided according to need but to no one's surprise, he used it to fund conservative states.

Of course, had Clinton or Kerry been president, the same kind of disaster would have occurred. There's little reason to believe that any Democratic administration would have stopped the flooding of New Orleans. But at least, there would have been immediate action to get poor people out of New Orleans before the storm and FEMA would have the funding to act immediately after the storm to limit the damage.

Are there other ways that Bush is responsible for New Orleans that I am forgetting about? I'd like to have a wingnutproof argument when my students get offended by my saying it.