Both the administration and Fox News are beginning to scapegoat Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin in a pathetic effort to deflect growing bipartisan criticism and outrage for the inhuman lack of response in New Orleans. Typical of a group of miscreants whose mantra has been "I didn't do it!" for, oh, five years now.
But courtesy of Americablog, we've learned that it's not Governor Blanco who is charged with the primary responsibility of disaster relief -- nor is it the mayor's responsibility.
Who dropped the ball in New Orleans? The Department of Homeland Security website sheds some light:
"In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort."
That's pretty clear, no? When the question is asked, "Who should've saved the people of New Orleans from starvation, thirst, rape, disease, and death?" The answer is right there. No gray area. And by "Department of Homeland Security", the website doesn't mean to imply "the governor of Louisiana".
Let's parse the most damning lines:
"The Department of Homeland Security [a cabinet level department] will assume primary [as in FIRST] responsibility . . . providing a coordinated, comprehensive [all encompassing -- everything], federal [as in "federal government"!] response . . . a swift [not days late!] and effective [no dead babies at sports arenas] recovery effort ["effort" evidently meaning the effort it took Bush to actually break away from his vacation]."
Or we could parse it through the eyes of the administration and apologetic Republicans:
"I didn't do it!"
AND ANOTHER THING: President Bush said today: "The magnitude of responding to a crisis over a disaster area that is larger than the size of Great Britain has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities."
Why is that?
Because, "The Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility . . . providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort."
Make no mistake, with Rove and Cheney standing on the sidelines at the Rose Garden Saturday and Chertoff directly behind the president, the mention of "state and local capabilities" was purely a politically motivated (Rove) "it's not our fault" drop-in.
Some excellent points from the comments:
ALAN ARIZONA: The Mayor of NO evacuated 80% of the population of a major city in one day. ONE day! And then centralized as many of the remaining people into two locations so that they could be safe from the hurricane and then be taken care of as efficiently as possible.
BUCK STOPS EVERYWHERE ELSE: Was it his fault that rescuers failed to reach people in Biloxi MS? The Alabama Coast? 50,000 or 60,000 or 70,000 square miles of land? That's the Mayor's fault?
Get it folks: This is a national disaster. Far, far, bigger than any one jurisdiction.
Only, only the federal government has the size and resources to deal with a disaster of this magnitude. Hasn't the entire bedrock of Bush's presidency been that he is the one best suited to protect the American people in times of crisis?
I'll tell you one thing, it wasn't the mayor of New Orleans who gutted FEMA, folded it into the Department of Homeland Security and appointed an unqualified crony as its chief.
And not one Bush administration apologist has been able to explain away, "This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort," as it relates to why all those people sat starving at the Superdome and Convention Center for days on end. I keep reading the word "swift" while recalling how many days those citizens were left to rot in the Superdome and Convention Center.
How many more examples -- how many more bodies will accumulate before we hold accountable a president who is vastly unqualified to lead. So there's a chance that Mayor Nagin could've done more. Where's the same accountability for the laundry list of more heinous mistakes made by the president and his cronies? The August 2001 PDB? The lack of body armor? The national security leaks to the press? No WMD? The days and days of inaction in New Orleans? The list goes on and on...
Please read Adam McKay's latest article here.