To this day Bush faces the wrath of the Left, who still believe that he intentionally ignored the pleas of stranded, suffering, and dying Delta residents during that horrible part-natural and part-man-made disaster, and insist that his alleged failures were due to racism.
In his autobiography “Decision Points”, Bush explains “the rest of the story” – the part that even his supporters never explained, and which is still ignored by the media.
He admits that he didn’t manage the PR aspects of Katrina well, and he should have landed his helicopter instead of flying over during the first few days. He did not want to hamper the rescue effort with the complications required by his security people.
From a policy standpoint, in the early going he deferred to state and local administrators, standing ready, waiting for their request for help, as is the protocol.
As Katrina escalated into a real disaster, Bush was reminded that he could not mobilize the National Guard without the express request and permission of Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco. Bush reached out to the governor, and she assured him she did not need or want any help from him, thank you very much.
His early contacts with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin were also rebuffed. “We have this under control,” said Nagin. Nothing could have been further from the truth, as buses that could have been used for evacuation were moved to safe storage, and police officers were seen carrying TV sets out of storefronts. But the mayor and the governor, both Democrats, did not want to appear unprepared and needing help from a Republican president.
President Bush became increasingly alarmed, and forcefully urged the governor to allow him to send in troops. By then Mayor Nagin was ready for help, but the governor held firm.
“That left me in a tough position,” Bush wrote in his memoir. “If I invoked the Insurrection Act against her wishes, the world would see a male Republican president usurping the authority of a female Democratic governor by declaring an insurrection in a largely African American city. That would arouse controversy anywhere. To do so in the Deep South, where there had been centuries of states’ rights tensions, could unleash holy hell.”
Realizing that Governor Blanco was paralyzed and incapable of making a responsible decision, he finally did send in troops without her permission. A massive Federal rescue effort hit the Delta region, but for many Katrina victims, and for President Bush’s reputation, it was too late.
President Bush still agonizes over the loss of life to Katrina, and takes deep offense to the charge of racism. He should not have to suffer more undeserved criticism from the Monday morning quarterbacks of the Left.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side