Fwd: The Mayor Who Failed His City

John blueoval at 1SMARTISP.NET
Tue Sep 6 07:48:22 MDT 2005

The Mayor Who Failed His City
By Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | September 6, 2005

GOD. Bellowing leftists such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cindy 
Sheehan have blamed Hurricane Katrina – something insurance 
companies classify as an act of God – on President Bush’s “killing 
policies” (and, in RFK Jr.’s case, those of Mississippi’s 
Republican governor, Haley Barbour). Former Clinton aide Sidney 
Blumenthal also penned an article in The Guardian chalking up the 
flood to the Bush administration’s having cut one item in the Army 
Corps of Engineers’ annual budget. (Desperate to build a 
presidential legacy, even ex post facto, ex-President Bill Clinton 
has intimated his administration did more to keep New Orleans safe 
than Bush's.) Meanwhile, DNC Chair Howard Dean weighed in by 
demeaning Bush’s trip to the disaster area, calling it “just 
another callous political move crafted by Karl Rove.”

In addition to claiming Bush somehow fed the phantom of “global 
warming” to rain death upon his own citizens, the Left has alleged 
“racism” in his handling of this disaster. Jesse Jackson quipped 
post-Hurricane New Orleans looks like “the hull of a slave ship.” 
Director Michael Moore played the race card in an open letter to 
Bush on his website. They found an echo in the “Reverend” Al 
Sharpton, who told MSNBC’s abysmal Keith Olbermann, “I feel that, 
if it was in another area, with another economic strata and racial 
makeup, that President Bush would have run out of Crawford a lot 
quicker and FEMA would have found its way in a lot sooner.” Rep. 
Elijah Cummings, D-MD, a member in good standing of the 
Congressional Black Caucus, played both the race and the God card, 

We cannot allow it to be said that the difference between those 
who lived and those who died in this great storm and flood of 2005 
was nothing more than poverty, age or skin color
To the president 
of the United States, I simply say that God cannot be pleased with 
our response.

And they say all the religious nutjobs are on the Right.

The Democrats’ avenging angel has come in the form of Senate 
Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, who has proposed a 9/11-style 
commission to probe the feds’ response to Hurricane Katrina. 
(After all, the original 9/11 Commission proved so exemplary.) 
Despite these transparent attempts to claw political advantage 
from the suffering of the downtrodden – after the National Guard 
forgeries, Plamegate, and conspiratorial ravings about the 
Federalist Society won them no traction – a Washington Post poll 
revealed 55 percent of Americans do not blame President Bush for 
the debacle in the Big Easy.

Perhaps that is because the American people intuit it is not the 
federal response that should be monitored but that of New Orleans 
Mayor Ray Nagin, a Democrat and, coincidentally, a black man.

In accordance with the “City of New Orleans Comprehensive 
Emergency Management Plan” – a blueprint drawn up to deal with 
emergencies like this one – all “Authority to issue evacuations of 
elements of the population is vested in the Mayor.” The document 
specifically states, “The person responsible for recognition of 
hurricane related preparation needs and for the issuance of an 
evacuation order is the Mayor of the City of New Orleans.” This 
outline does not mention any specific federal government’s role in 
disaster relief, instead carving out roles for state and municipal 
governments. In fact, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld noted 
this holiday weekend, posse commitatus statutes bar federal 
officers from working as law enforcement officials.

Charged with so heavy a responsibility, Mayor Nagin punted, then 
passed the buck. The National Hurricane Center called Nagin 
Saturday night asking him to evacuate New Orleans, and President 
Bush also begged him to get his people to safety. As mayor, the 
final decision was Nagin's. He was expected to issue such an order 
48 hours before the storm made landfall; however, the storm 
touched down and the levees gave way less than 48 hours after his 

Moreover, he is to see that “Special arrangements will be made to 
evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require 
specific life saving assistance.” Yet some 205 buses, and perhaps 
a greater number of large transit vehicles, were left stranded in 
a flooded parking lot. University of New Orleans professor Shirley 
Laksa had calculated some 125,000 residents do not have private 
transportation. As a result of Nagin’s inaction, Katrina’s victims 
are twice as likely to be poor than the average American. These 
are the people who had no recourse but to wait for the local 
government to rescue them; these are the people municipal 
malfeasance and nonfeasance abandoned to an ill-equipped 

Despite these critical lapses in judgment, Sen. Mary Landrieu, 
D-LA, pressured her commander-in-chief to withhold all criticism 
of the local response (President Bush had not made any, justified 
though it might be), threatening that, if he didn’t, “I might 
likely have to punch him. Literally.” Although Washington was 
abuzz when Rep. Dan Burton called Bill Clinton a “scumbag,” no 
censure has been forthcoming for Landrieu.

The Left has not idled down its criticisms of Bush, blaming him 
for global warming and poor planning. The facts tell another tale. 
The infrastructure the Left criticizes Bush of withholding, 
planned by the Army Corps of Engineers, would have only defended 
the city from a level three storm; Katrina’s level five winds 
would have overwhelmed the project, even if it had been completed. 
Former Louisiana Democratic Senator John Breaux said the funds 
leftists blame Bush for cutting have been diverted by presidents 
since the 1970s. With the Left sniping at him over high deficits 
incurred by fighting a war in two nations, President Bush has had 
to trim non-essential spending, and no one considered it a vital 
priority to fund a system designed to guard against what Sen. 
Breaux called a “once every hundred years” storm. The experts 
several steps removed from the president – and on both sides of 
the aisle – simply bet a storm of this magnitude would not occur. 
The Army Corps of Engineers commander Lt. Gen. Carl Strock spelled 
out these sentiments: “We had an assurance that 99.5 percent this 
would be OK. We, unfortunately, have had that .5 percent activity 
here.” Strock also denied needed monies were diverted to Iraq.

However, this storm didn’t catch everyone by surprise. Scientists 
have known since the 1980s that the city’s levees would fail in a 
storm of Katrina’s magnitude.

The federal government’s response has been laudable. FEMA Director 
Mike Brown began moving federal resources into New Orleans two 
days before the storm hit. Currently, some 8,500 active duty 
troops are serving in New Orleans. The chaotic situation created 
by Mayor Nagin’s herding people into the Superdome, without 
adequate provisions for the long haul, with the resultant murder, 
rape, and looting a byproduct of poor, or non-existent, planning. 
Governor Blanco also deserves blame for not calling in the 
National Guard to get the situation in hand earlier. Now, 38,000 
National Guardsmen are aiding the wider disaster area, including 
undertaking the police functions within New Orleans that Mayor 
Nagin could not or would not furnish.

With all these efforts going on, Jesse Jackson threw himself 
before the cameras yet again last week, claiming, “The president 
has not put together a federal program or a coordinated effort to 
address this massive crisis.”

Just prior to Jackson’s statement, Mayor Ray Nagin coped with the 
high pressure of the situation he created by launching into a 
profanity-laden radio interview with WWL-AM. He ranted that 
federal relief workers needed to “get off your asses.” (This at a 
time when helicopters bearing federal relief were being shot at by 
New Orleanians Nagin could not control.)

These are the same murderous looters the Democratic Party’s blog 
referred to as “the victims.” The only New Orleans residents not 
intimidated by the rampaging gangs of hoodlums have relied upon 
the only freedom that keeps law-abiding men safe: the right to 
privately own firearms.

The New Orleans debacle has demonstrated a few discomforting 
truths: there is apparently no national suffering so moving that 
the Left will not exploit it for crass political advantage. The 
nation should have learned this when Bill Clinton blamed the 
Oklahoma City Bombing on Rush Limbaugh and Republican 
“anti-government rhetoric.” More importantly, significant holes 
remain in our national infrastructure, which an enterprising 
terrorist cell could exploit. We can no longer turn a blind eye to 
the national security implications of mayoral elections in this 
nation’s vital cities. Their governance, so long dominated by 
corrupt and ineffectual leftists, has led to disaster on a massive 
scale. In the case of New Orleans, a plan had even been drawn up 
to fend off the worst
the mayor simply demurred from filling in 
its blanks. The tragedy filling our television screens for the 
last week is its result. Next time, the mourning could be caused 
by an act of war. At least one Bush critic, Rep. Bobby Jindahl, 
R-LA, is right: “After 9/11, this never should have happened.”

Click Here to make a generous donation to the relief efforts of 
the American Red Cross.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and author of 
the book 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's 
Charitable Giving.

"The Founding Fathers knew that even the best designed government 
wouldn't work if the people were not righteous, moral and G-d 
fearing - if they didn't love liberty and cherish it."

"If a nation or individual values anything more than freedom, it 
will lose it's freedom; and the irony is that if it is comfort or 
money it values more, it will lose that too."
--W. Somerset Maugham

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