What is with the Bush administration and its inability to plan? Today we have President Bush telling Diane Sawyer that nobody could have anticipated the levees giving out in New Orleans. Leaving aside all the discussion of articles in the New Orleans paper, discussions of past FEMA drills, and other such evidence, this is something that most people knew from simple common sense. As I mentioned the other day, we discussed the implications for New Orleans if the “big one” hit from the time I was a child, just like people discuss the fate of Los Angeles if there’s a major earthquake on the San Andreas Fault.
What this really illustrates is the cost of bad government. New Orleans has been known as a poorly governed city. Louisiana has long been an example of bad state government, and the Bush administration is a pathetic joke. It’s costing lots of people their lives, as the government failed to prepare in advance of the storm and has responded inadequately in the aftermath. Beyond mere partisanship, the most important thing is to elect responsible adults who can and will solve problems. That capability seems to be missing these days.
I can remember some years ago when a hurricane was threatening the area of Texas where we lived. The government called for an evacuation, and followed up by sending in school buses to pick up all of the people who couldn’t get out of town on their own. I doubt they got everyone, but at least they gave it a shot. It turned out that the hurricane missed us entirely, but had it hit, many of the people who are most vulnerable would have been safely out of the way thanks to the local government. How sad it is that the people of New Orleans weren’t given the same benefit.
Update: See Eric Umansky on this topic.
Another update: Tim Naftali has a good piece on the ineffectual response from the government at Slate. In the meantime, US Representative Charles Melancon says that 100 of the 1500 people waiting to be evacuated from Chalmette (in St. Bernard Parish) have died.