Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Truth of Katrina--You Won't Hear it from the White House

The horrid mess that Hurricane Katrina wrought across the Gulf Coast remains. It was truly a devil of a storm that flooded a major U.S. city, killed thousands, and destroyed billions upon billions of dollars in property. And while its physical effects are going to be felt for years to come, history does not have to be marred by false tales of alleged first responder incompetence which are alleged to have taken place in its aftermath.

This account by RealClearPolitics's Lou Dolinar sets the record straight. And while he notes that FEMA's response was nothing sterling, and that Ray Nagin's behavior was nothing short of flaccid as he sat in a hotel suite away from the action, he notes that the National Guard, Coast Guard, local police and firefighters and others were on the job as they ought to have been. He also states that rescue operations began nearly immediately, and as soon as they were safe for the rescuers to commence. The post is an excellent, although lengthy read, but certainly worth the venture.

But the final point made is the one that was echoing through my head all along--why the heck didn't the White House make these facts very clear as they became known? Why did they cede control of the story to the mainstream media who got nearly everything wrong, and to the Democrats who were using it as a cudgel to instill in the public their belief that President Bush is careless and incompetent? Why do they still allow themselves to be beaten up by the left when they know that the left does not have the facts to support their accusations?

One will never know. But it seems to me that this is one department where the White House needs to cure its reputation, and quickly. Because reports that we have another hurricane season coming which may be about as awful as the last one revive memories of New Orleans. And those memories recall the apparent lack of response to the disaster which the media and left blamed on the President. And the kind of tool that the Dems were looking for--a sort of time-release political poison--is just what they have created whenever the mentions of New Orleans, levees, Katrina, Gulf Coast, and hurricanes have created in the minds of many.

It is meaningless for conservatives to defend the President on this issue. His popularity has never recovered since Katrina, and unless he goes back on the offensive, which the new communications team doesn't seem to be doing yet, he won't. He can't let this go. He must set the record straight.

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