On anniversary of Katrina, former Bush aides revise history

This week marked the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The occasion has inspired retrospectives about the storm and updates on the current state of New Orleans, as all anniversaries are wont to do these days. Many of these pieces have been thought-provoking and insightful. The piece by former Bush aide Jason Recher isn’t. At all.

Recher, writing for Fox News (of course), argues that one man can take a lot of the credit for New Orleans’s recovery from Katrina: President George W. Bush. Not only did the federal aid approved by Bush jumpstart the city’s growth post-Katrina, he writes, but the generous President even deigned to grace the city with his healing presence. As Recher writes:

Damage from Hurricane Katrina, via Wikimedia Commons

Damage from Hurricane Katrina, via Wikimedia Commons

At Bush’s urging, Congress passed a package of $52 billion in aid to help rebuild and recover the estimated $108 billion lost to the storm. The Bushes, who had a deep love for and connection to New Orleans prior to Katrina, personally visited the Gulf region 41 times with their sleeves rolled up, grabbing hammers and lending hands to rebuilding efforts.

In 2008, the Presidential Debate Commission rejected New Orleans as a host city over false fears the hospitality industry lacked capacity. President Bush one-upped them. He decided to host the final international summit of his administration in New Orleans – inviting the leaders of Mexico and Canada, along with the international media, to town for financial negations, a jazz second line and a visit to Treme’s Dooky Chase for heaping bowls of Chef Leah’s gumbo.

While Bush certainly did make a good show of caring about New Orleans after the storm, that’s where Recher’s analysis begins: after the storm. As Clover Hope notes in Jezebel, New Orleans’s population would not have been so devastated had President Bush acted so presidential before the storm hit in the first place.

Former FEMA chief and perpetual Katrina scapegoat Michael Brown outlines the inadequacy of the federal government’s reaction to the storm in a piece published in Politico yesterday. In it, he writes that Bush was given an opportunity to announce a federally-enforced mandatory evacuation notice with plenty of time to get people out safely. Instead of doing that, Bush left the decision to local authorities, who bungled the storm response disastrously. According to Brown:

By the time federalization was seriously considered, the biggest mistake had already been made: evacuation began too late. And even if FEMA had been given the power to order citizens out of New Orleans days earlier, it didn’t own the helicopters, military transport planes and amphibious armored personnel carriers necessary to carry out the evacuation of a major American city.

The delayed governmental response to Katrina probably cost thousands of people their lives. While Bush was only one of the many powerful figures who contributed to the government’s inaction, his personal failure to act was catastrophic. And although the aid Bush pushed for might have helped rebuild New Orleans, the post-Katrina city is a city that has left many of its old residents behind, replacing poor black families with white yuppies.

Hurricane Katrina was the beginning of the end of President Bush’s presidency for a reason. His failure to act like a president, and to appreciate the danger New Orleans’s citizens were in, directly contributed to the deaths of nearly 2,000 people. No amount of gumbo eaten after the fact can change that.


Madison Smith is a freelancer based in Montreal and Philadelphia. He's a recent graduate of Mcgill University with a bachelor's in Political Science. When he's not railing against right-wing injustices online, you can find him singing about them on tour with his band.

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18 Responses to “On anniversary of Katrina, former Bush aides revise history”

  1. jim says:

    Rewrite history a standard republican procedure and their sheep eat it up and argue that they are right. Katrina was a real Bush mistake and turn into a cluster. Hope Jeb doesn’t go to New Orleans he will he stoned for showing up. W let the people of New Orleans down as did his staff and Fema forget it.

  2. LanceThruster says:

    50lbs of crap in a 5lb bag…

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  4. silas1898 says:

    They should have thrown their shoes at him.

  5. 2karmanot says:

    He was Duggering the guitar.

  6. 2karmanot says:

    Only a Bush would have the unmitigated gall to revisit NOLA and babble on about bravery and tragedy. But, then they do have ‘beautiful’ minds.’

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  8. Indigo says:

    New Orleans is new again. That’s happened before. The loss of old families is a genuine loss but the arrival of yuppies, white or not, is not necessarily a damning turn of fortune. They’ll adapt and learn or move on. New Orleans is like that.

  9. dave3137 says:

    I would highly recommend FAIR’s “CounterSpin” coverage which aired August 21. It is available as an MP3 file and a transcript. In it, we find that financial assistance went ONLY to homeowners, not to renters or residents of public housing — not even for replacement of lost belongings, clothing, etc. The education system has gone almost exclusively “charter.” Charity Hospital has still not reopened, and there are no services aimed at children suffering forms of PTSD from the disaster, dislocation, etc. Affordable housing is almost an oxymoron. US Senators from affected states prevented the sort of assistance aimed at low-income people. And on and on and on. But everyone from the President on down (and the MSM) seem to want us to believe in a huge “success story” (with a few minor details still to be worked out).

  10. BeccaM says:

    Yeah, the dude next to him is like, “That’s not a chord.”

  11. DGT says:

    Also, he is just posing with the guitar, although he can’t actually play it. Just like his fake “ranch”, his stuffed-crotch aircraft carrier landing, and the plastic turkey he served to the troops in Iraq, everything is a prop.

  12. Don Chandler says:

    Reagan used the Marines as a peace keeping force in Lebanon to guard the airport (shows how clueless reagan really was…)…but as commander in chief, he failed to secure their safety in their barracks leading to over 300 deaths. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the Barrack Bombing. Here are some of Islamic Jihad’s dirty deeds [wiki on islamic jihad group]:

    24 May 1982. Car bomb attack on French Embassy in Beirut killing 12 and wounding 27. Islam Jihad is one of several groups taking responsibility. Anger over France’s providing of arms to Iran’s enemy Iraq is thought to be the motivating factor.[24]

    18 April 1983. Bombing of U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Detonated in a delivery van driven by a suicide bomber, carrying about 2000 pounds of explosives. The bomb killed 63 people, 17 of them Americans, including 9 CIA agents in Beirut for a meeting.[25]

    23 October 1983. MNF barracks bombing in Beirut. Two truck bombs struck buildings in Beirut housing U.S. and French members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon, killing 241 American servicemen and 58 French paratroopers. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility in a statement to Agence France Presse: “We are the soldiers of God, … We are neither Iranians, Syrian nor Palestinians, but Muslims who follow the precepts of the Koran … We said after that [April embassy bombing] that we would strike more violently still. Now they understand with what they are dealing. Violence will remain our only way.”[26]

    [very damning…reagan surely knew of Islamic Jihad and their intentions…]

    12 December 1983. 1983 Kuwait bombings. Two months after the Beirut barracks bombing. The 90-minute coordinated attack of six key foreign and Kuwaiti installations including two embassies, the airport and the countries main petro-chemical plant, was more notable for the damage it might have caused than what was actually destroyed. What might have been “the worst terrorist episode of the twentieth century in the Middle East,” succeeding in killing only six people because of the bombs faulty rigging.[27]

    18 January 1984. Malcolm Kerr, president of the American University in Beirut (AUB), was assassinated near his office. He had replaced AUB president David Dodge, who was kidnapped six months earlier. A telephone message claiming to represent Islamic Jihad proclaimed: “We are responsible of the assassination of the president of AUB … We also vow that not a single American or French will remain on this soil. We shall take no different course. And we shall not waver.”[28]

    7 February 1984. Gholam Ali Oveisi, former military governor of Tehran, and his brother were assassinated in Paris where they were in exile. An anonymous person called and told the UPI in London that the group perpetrated the assassination, stating “…we shall do this wherever our opposition is abroad.” [29]

    20 September 1984. 1984 U.S. embassy annex bombing. In Christian East Beirut the US embassy was bombed by a suicide van bomber with 3000 pounds of explosives. 14 were killed, including two Americans, and dozens were injured. They had moved to a “quiet residential suburb of hillside villas and luxury apartments” after the 1983 bombing. Ambassador Reginald Bartholomew and visiting British Ambassador David Miers were buried under rubble but rescued with only minor injuries. Islamic Jihad took credit in an anonymous phone call vowing, “The operation comes to prove that we will carry out our previous promise not to allow a single American to remain on Lebanese soil. … we mean every inch of Lebanese territory. …”[30]

    [Somehow, Reagan got re-elected after this….”benghazigate” affair]

    I stopped here because Reagan still hadn’t hadn’t figured out how to deal with Islamic Jihad.

    All the GOP can do is remember Benghazi. They hold the dems to the very highest standards…like no email issues allowed. But they hold themselves to the very lowest standards…like torture and lying about the pretext for attacking Iraq…and thinking up an evolving rationale for war in iraq like spreading democracy….Someday, shrub will be a Reaganian Forest.

  13. BeccaM says:

    In addition to the unnecessary deaths in New Orleans, we have the ignored warnings before the 11 September 2001 attacks, resulting in more preventable deaths. The launching of the Forever War in Afghanistan and the decision to start a second war and permanent occupation in Iraq — with casualties in these wars estimated to be in the millions, on top of trillions of dollars spent. War crimes then compounded by more war crimes in the form of torture, which has been a terrific recruiting tool for anti-American terrorist organizations. Every death caused by ISIS is indirectly the result of the power vacuum created in the Middle East by Bush and his Administration.

    George W Bush’s failure to act like America’s President and indeed his apparent disinterest in the job led both directly and indirectly to the unnecessary deaths of millions and the ruination of many more. And when the next avalanche of a violent terrorist attack happens against America and her citizens, it’ll be because Bush was kicking pebbles petulantly off the top of the mountain.

  14. BeccaM says:

    Indeed. Dubya was also doing this during the storm disaster:

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Bush-guitar.jpg

    I always thought it was the iconic epitome of his attitude towards being President. Just basically f*cking around and doing whatever he felt like doing on any given day.

  15. nicho says:

    Rewriting history is a GOP specialty. They turned Reagan, a mentally ill fraud, into the “greatest president ever.”

  16. mark_in_toronto says:

    Bush was at a birthday party in California while Katrina hit. He was oblivious to the ongoing disaster. New Orleans was the 2nd city to be devastated while he was ‘in charge.’ As a nice final ‘f**k you’ to the country, he allowed the destruction of the U.S. economy. What a great man.

  17. Sally says:

    Considering that a percentage of New Orleanians think they OBAMA was President and bun led Katrina aid, this is not a surprise. The Bushies have been rewriting history since the man was in office. Why stop now? And then you have the RW talking heads calling for a similar event to ‘cleanse’ Chicago, and it’s clear that the anti-black views still abound in this nation. We are a sad country, and not getting better.

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