Thursday, August 24, 2006

"Katrina media push"

US News&World Report:
The battle over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina has been joined--again.
With the first anniversary of Katrina next week, President Bush is planning a big push to make it clear that he is committed to rebuilding New Orleans and the devastated Gulf Coast and that the federal government will better handle hurricanes this season. Bush will visit the region in the next week, and he met this morning with Katrina survivor Rockey Vaccarella at the White House to show his concern.
For his part, Vaccarella called Bush a "people person" and said he wished "the president could have another term in Washington." Yesterday, the White House held a press briefing in which recovery efforts were highlighted by FEMA Director David Paulison, Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, and Don Powell, federal coordinator for the Office of Gulf Coast Rebuilding.

On the other hand, Democrats have been very aggressive in criticizing Bush and reminding voters of the weak federal response to Katrina a year ago--which damaged Bush's reputation as a strong, effective leader. Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean, for example, issued a four-page, single-spaced critique of "promises made and promises broken after Katrina."

The Democratic National Committee statement said, "One year later, FEMA's housing program is fraught with problems, the New Orleans infrastructure is in disarray, the antipoverty programs have been dropped, and many in the region are still waiting for help.

"A year after losing almost everything during the hurricane itself, Katrina survivors are continuing to lose hope in their belief that President Bush will fulfill the promises made to them." Dean tried to connect the Katrina issue to other concerns.

"The tragic reality is that President Bush has had no plan for the Gulf Coast, just as he has had no plan to address the problems of hard-working Americans, and no plan for Iraq," Dean said. "... Worse still, America is still vulnerable, as the Bush administration has not taken the steps necessary to ensure that we are prepared to address the next great disaster, whether it is a hurricane or a terrorist attack."

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