Even if the Mayor and Governor acted quicker, which many of the pro-federal supporters claim, I'm not sure that would have made a difference. It wasn't like the federal government was waiting outside the border of the state, awaiting permission to come in.
President Bush was on vacation and focused on Medicare, immigration, and playing the guitar; Vice-President Cheney was on vacation in Wyoming and didn't return until days after the levees broke; DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff praised the federal response; Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was on vacation in New York; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was at a Padres game in San Diego; and last of all, President Bush praised now fired Michael Brown.
They didn't have a clue as to the potential of the disaster or the magnitude of the suffering in the New Orleans area, regardless of the local and state's actions in the days immediately after.
Think Progress has a timeline - following is some key points (and note that the levees broke Monday... this is 2-3 afterwards):
First, I would ask that you all peruse the October 2001 Scientific American article "Drowning New Orleans". The water comes from a different direction, yet the potential has always been there.
Secondly, another article via National Geographic which further invalidates President Bush's claims below that "no one knew this would happen". I'm sorry sir, but yes, they did.
Now here's excerpts from the timeline:
LATE MORNING – LEVEE BREACHED: “A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new ‘hurricane proof’ Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north.” [Times-Picayune]
8PM CDT — RUMSFELD ATTENDS SAN DIEGO PADRES BASEBALL GAME: Rumsfeld “joined Padres President John Moores in the owner’s box…at Petco Park.” [Editor & Publisher]
2PM CDT – PRESIDENT BUSH PLAYS GUITAR WITH COUNTRY SINGER MARK WILLIS [AP]
Wednesday, August 31
7PM CDT – CONDOLEEZZA RICE TAKES IN A BROADWAY SHOW: “On Wednesday night, Secretary Rice was booed by some audience members at ‘Spamalot!, the Monty Python musical at the Shubert, when the lights went up after the performance.” [New York Post, 9/2/05]
8PM CDT — FEMA DIRECTOR BROWN CLAIMS SURPRISE OVER SIZE OF STORM: “I must say, this storm is much much bigger than anyone expected.” [CNN]
Folks, remember, one of the downsides of a democracy is we voted for these guys.
7AM CDT — BUSH CLAIMS NO ONE EXPECTED LEVEES TO BREAK: “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.” [Washington Post]
CONDOLEEZZA RICE VISITS U.S. OPEN: “Rice, [in New York] on three days’ vacation to shop and see the U.S. Open, hitting some balls with retired champ Monica Seles at the Indoor Tennis Club at Grand Central.” [New York Post]
CONDOLEEZZA RICE GOES SHOE SHOPPING: “Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, ‘How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!’” [Gawker]
ROVE-LED CAMPAIGN TO BLAME LOCAL OFFICIALS BEGINS: “Under the command of President Bush’s two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan…to contain the political damage from the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.” President Bush’s comments from the Rose Garden Friday morning formed “the start of this campaign.” [New York Times, 9/5/05]
And the one that should give us all pause...
EARLY AM — BUSH WATCHES DVD OF THE WEEK’S NEWSCASTS CREATED BY STAFF WHO THOUGHT BUSH “NEEDED TO SEE THE HORRIFIC REPORTS”: “The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.” [Newsweek]
I would recommend reading the entire timeline... my earlier 'blowjob' post was entirely emotional, but in effect, both the Lewinsky and Katrina scandals do have one thing in common: Both are a disgrace.
Again I repeat, the one difference? Katrina cost lives.
So much for compassionate conservatism. When's the next election?