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GOP guvs don't deserve Gulf storm credit

By Dontre

Last night, as the Republicans kicked-off their version of stagecraft known as a national convention, there existed an overt sense of self-aggrandizement. Cindy McCain, wife of Republican presidential nominee John McCain, took to the stage reminding everyone that they should wear "American hats" instead of Republican hats, as they prepared for the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav in the Gulf Region.

Before she spoke, however, first lady Laura Bush introduced a video montage of the respective governors of the Gulf States. Each, in their Southern lilt, heaped praise on the Bush administration for their rapid response to federal aid requests and on each other for the great way in which they banded together helped the people of “Loo-ze-anah.” Laura then took the opportunity to remind us that each of the governors is Republican.

In her attempt to take a quick jab at the Democrats and show Republican strength, Laura ignored a few (recent) historical facts that might have caused the Republicans — indeed, all of us — to see that this glowing little display of camaraderie by the Republican governors corps was nothing more than made-for-TV infomercial, created for visual effect. Let us consider, first, that Bobby Jindal was noticeably absent from this touching little tribute to Republican cohesion, likely because the only Louisiana governor who can offer a solid perspective on Republican disaster management is former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

(continued) Whereas his colleagues, Bob Riley (of Alabama), Charlie Crist (of Florida), Haley Barbour (of Mississippi) and Rick Perry (of Texas), all echoed Cindy McCain’s message of American unity in the face of disaster, their cohesion in facing Gustav only solidifies the image of the Republicans as a party of good ol’ boys, who only help their own. Before Jindal responds to the expedient, helpful, wonderful help of the Republican governors (and he will, I’m sure!), I’d like someone to track down Blanco and quiz her on the effectiveness of the Republican party following Hurricane Katrina.

Bobby Jindal can, largely, thank Blanco’s perceived inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina as the reason he now occupies Louisiana’s governor’s mansion. Deciding not to place politics before “the people’s work,” Blanco did not seek re-election in 2007, leaving the post to be captured by her one-time rival, whom she beat out for her first term. Her departure, however, does not absolve President Bush, and the Republican party, of their mismanagement of the Katrina disaster. It was only after an intense investigation into the events that unfolded did we see that the president and his team deserved much of the blame that they were slinging at the Democratic governor.

Of the many complaints voiced by Blanco, the most ardent was her belief that Mississippi received preferential treatment for federal funds and disaster relief in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita because Gov. Haley Barbour is Republican. It was only after federal investigations and intense scrutiny in the media, the most famous of which saw Kanye West declare, during a benefit concert for victims of Katrina, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” that Blanco was able to leverage her requests for additional funding. This came several months later, however, and Kathleen maintains that she had requested the additional funding many times in previous months. Blanco called for an independent investigation into whether partisan politics played a role in the slow response to Louisiana’s need for more federal aid.

President Bush did finally admit that the federal government had failed the people of Louisiana and offered an apology for his part, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown resigned amidst criticism of his inadequate leadership. As you might suppose, the Republicans made no mention of either Bush’s admittance of guilt, or Brown’s resignation. Instead, they attempted to illuminate their current efforts in the Gulf regions and play up what it is they (solely) are doing to help — depicting the Republicans as saviors of the nation.

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