After Sept. 11, there was an external enemy, "evildoers" against whom to summon fear and fervor. Now, instead, the flood has brought to the surface the deepest national questions of race, class and inequality. On Aug. 30, the day after the hurricane hit, the Census Bureau released figures showing that the poor had increased by 1.1 million since 2003, to 12.7 percent of the population, the fourth annual increase, with blacks and Hispanics the poorest, and the South remaining the poorest region. Since Bush has been in office, poverty has grown by almost 9 percent. (Under President Clinton, poverty fell by 25 percent.) As these issues began to receive serious attention for the first time in years, Bush reiterated that it was inappropriate to "play the blame game."
Meanwhile, his aides sought to blame New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco. On Sept. 3, the Washington Post, citing an anonymous "senior administration official," reported that Blanco "still had not declared a state of emergency." Newsweek published a similar report. Within hours, however, the Post published a correction; the report was false. In fact, Blanco had declared an emergency on Aug. 26 and sent President Bush a letter on Aug. 27 requesting that the federal government declare an emergency and provide aid; and, in fact, Bush did make such a declaration, thereby accepting responsibility. Nonetheless, these facts have not stymied White House aides from their drumbeat that state and local officials -- but curiously, not the Republican governors of Mississippi and Alabama -- are ultimately to blame.
Salon has had some really good coverage of the flood porn aspect of other peoples' misfortunes. Earlier this week they pointed out how Geraldo Rivera made some poor elderly woman walk from the heliport to the Superdome twice just so he could get another take for the newscast. Now we have a look at all of the self congratulating in the current Administration, who thinks that they've done everything right once they started.