Friday, August 29, 2008

will the republicans get a do-over on hurricane relief?

A storm named Gustav is churning thru the Gulf of Mexico. The last projection I saw for it had it aiming for a town called New Orleans. Three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and Mississippi, Hurricane Gustav is an unwelcome guest threatening a similar path.

And this year, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is actually visiting the gulf coast in advance of the hurricane, instead of ignoring it EVEN AFTER THE LEVEES WERE BREACHED, as he did in 2005. President Bush is talking about preparing for the storm, after having to be dragged away from his Crawford ranch in 2005.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, an utter failure in 2005, is already calling for mandatory evacuations - and heck, might even try to use New Orleans' school and municipal buses instead of leaving them in a parking lot in a low-lying part of town destined to flood.

If I were feeling generous, I would say this is based on experience. And that may be true in part. But the real difference for the White House and Chertoff is the fact that 2008 is an election year.

Remember Florida in 2004? They were hit by four hurricanes in rapid succession. But they coped pretty well. Partly because Florida Division of Emergency Management is a well-funded and well-prepared organization. But the quick federal response was of course in large part because it was a swing state in an election year, prompting FEMA to give hundreds of millions of dollars in hurricane "assistance" to counties in Florida that weren't even HIT by the four hurricanes.

In 2005 of course, Bush and cronies didn't give a shit.

So my prediction: if Gustav hits New Orleans hard, the response will be much better. And if I were the Democrats I would make that difference very very obvious by saying "Republicans only want to save drowning and stranded poor people in election years. Other years, they just don't care."



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