The City That Care Bush Forgot

President Bush looks out the window of Air Force One inspecting damage from Hurricane Katrina while flying over New Orleans en route back to the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Even if you don’t think George W. Bush deserves blame for cutting federal funds allocated to reinforce and repair levees that may or may not have prevented the inundation of New Orleans, how does his response pre- and post-disaster measure up?

What if, for instance, there had been no storm but instead rumors of a terrorist plot to blow holes into New Orleans levees had reached the ears of federal officials last weekend? Would the terror alert level have been elevated? Is that all the administration would have done? Would Bush have hunkered down on his ranch, gone back to Washington, or continued his campaign against Social Security? Would that have been an appropriate response to the imminent devastation of a city of one-and-a-half million people, the possible deaths of hundreds or thousands of people, and the economic nightmare to follow? The greater New Orleans area had a civilian work force of over 600,000; anything that was a threat to the livelihoods of that many people should have been of some concern.

Then, in the face of an actual disaster, he wasn’t exactly quick to leap into action. He’s spent two days trying to tie his Iraq war onto the coattails of World War II and to foist off his dead dog of a Social Security plan, when the destruction of New Orleans, Biloxi, and much of the Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana coastal regions is going to be exceeded on his watch as an economic catastrophe only by the Iraq war.

If anyone’s wondering what to expect when terrorists strike the US again, your answer’s in the photos above and below.

President Bush pauses after having a look from the window of Air Force One of the damage to New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. AP Photo/Susan Walsh