Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Other Quagmire

Two years and counting now in the post-Katrina world of New Orleans & surrounding areas. There are some wonderful stories of areas that have rebuilt and are starting over again - in Mississippi and other areas. Those stories are few and far between in the New Orleans area. One of the reasons - fear. As Darren Dupont of St. Bernard parish said, ""Never in my wildest imagination did I think something like Katrina would happen. I always knew I lived in a bowl. I just never knew I lived at the bottom of the bowl." Dupont now lives in Hammond, Louisiana and has no plans to return to the bottom of the bowl. The WaPo is among the papers doing in depth stories on Katrina today. To read the story about St. Bernard parish, click here. For a look at a map showing the potential for future flooding in the area, click here. This page also includes a number of Katrina-related stories from the paper in the last few months.

The Outlook section of the paper includes Douglas Brinkley's assessment of the Katrina recovery. He begins by looking at the good flood - that of volunteers who have spent time over the past 730 days coming in and offering their time, sweat and expertise to rebuild.

After weeks of grueling labor, they realize that they are running in place, toiling in a surreal vacuum.

Two full years after the hurricane, the Big Easy is barely limping along, unable to make truly meaningful reconstruction progress. The most important issues concerning the city's long-term survival are still up in the air. Why is no Herculean clean-up effort underway? Why hasn't President Bush named a high-profile czar such as Colin Powell or James Baker to oversee the ongoing disaster? Where is the U.S. government's participation in the rebuilding?

And why are volunteers practically the only ones working to reconstruct homes in communities that may never again have sewage service, garbage collection or electricity?

Eventually, the volunteers' altruism turns to bewilderment and finally to outrage. They've been hoodwinked. The stalled recovery can't be blamed on bureaucratic inertia or red tape alone. Many volunteers come to understand what I've concluded is the heartless reality: The Bush administration actually wants these neighborhoods below sea level to die on the vine.

And as befits an historian (a real one, not the wannabes that infect the White House), Brinkley looks at Bush's inability to perform his duties in comparison to some of those who came before.

The White House keeps spinning Bush's abysmal poll numbers by claiming that his legacy will rise decades from now the way Harry S. Truman's did. But Truman had a reputation for straight talk and bold vision. If Bush wants history to perceive him as Trumanesque, then he must act Trumanesque.

Bush's predecessors moved mountains. Theodore Roosevelt set aside 230 million acres for wildlife conservation (plus built the Panama Canal). Franklin D. Roosevelt began a kaleidoscope of New Deal programs to calm the Great Depression and Truman oversaw the Marshall Plan rebuilding of Western Europe after World War II. Bush could seize the initiative and announce a real plan to rebuild, a partnership between the government, Fortune 500 companies and faith-based groups.

Brinkley finds plenty of blame to share, not all of it in the White House. But I do like to look back at Truman, TR & FDR and ask myself, if faced with these same problems and blame in other areas, which one of them would have thrown up his hands and given up?

True courage, vision and determination - that makes a great president. And Geo W. has never had any of it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

God, where is our presidents head? I ask a question I already know the answer to but it keeps playing in my head. He is in the Middle east. At war for oil. Oil which means money for him and his oil rich family. Oil which could help actually rebuild and sustain NOLA if they were allowed to use the money for themselves but aren't those off shore drilling companies brilliant? They go 3 miles out so they dont have to share their profits with the state they are sucking dry of protective wetlands. The city they helped ruin. Yes I drive a car, which needs gas, but why am I paying 3 dollars a gallon for gas? I thought the initial hike in gas prices was due to the Hurricanes of the 05 season. So Im sure the off shores have repaired there rigs to pre Katrina status, what about New Orleans. So so sad. All these people, rich poor, black white, doesnt matter. They all deserve to come back to a safe city in a timely manner. But wait its already been 2 f-in years. Timely. New Orleans The city forgotten. Yet everyday we pump billions into the war on oil(Terrorism). Bush is a terrorist. To his own people.

12:09 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

LP, I posted an article today that has an excellent graphic from the NYT about just how bad the recovery is. You might find it interesting.

12:59 PM  

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