President Obama intends to visit New Orleans on the August 29 anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. If his past behavior is any guide, he’ll dance on George Bush’s political grave, take credit for things he did not accomplish, and fail to blame the group most responsible for the flooding damage: the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Corps was finally forced to admit they built poorly designed, substandard levees whose failure was responsible for two-thirds of the flooding in New Orleans. Some revisionists on the left forget that they built and managed these failed levees for decades before ol’ George was even running for the highest office of the land. They apparently learned nothing from Hurricane Katrina. The year after the hurricane, the Corps installed faulty pumps and were caught stuffing floodwalls with newspaper instead of using the rubber gaskets the design demanded.
The President enjoys portraying himself as knowledgeable about Hurricane Katrina – he has never missed an opportunity to criticize the Bush administration’s response to the storm – but has failed to make any effort to reform the Corps. Instead, he allowed the Corps to obstruct local efforts to rebuild our rapidly eroding coastline – which would be a great improvement in our hurricane protection – and to prevent the oil spill from coming ashore. His passivity in the face of the Corps’ determined incompetence is hardly inspiring, in contrast to whatever soaring rhetoric his speechwriters load into the teleprompter.
Aside from what Mr. Obama passively allows, his actions toward New Orleans are much worse. He promised reform in the Minerals Management Service and touted Ken Salazar, his pick to run the agency, as the new sheriff in town. Instead, agency staffers viewed porn on the job and used drugs with employees of the oil companies they were supposed to be overseeing. Rather than adequately enforcing safety regulations on drilling, the MMS sent out a trainee to inspect the Deepwater Horizon rig just before the blowout. After the oil spill, the President allowed federal agencies to obstruct local efforts at every turn, even to the point of repeated lies and fictional maps pinpointing the location of phantom oil skimmers.
Considering how many people President Obama’s various policies have thrown into the unemployment line, including the drilling moratorium so ill-conceived that it’s been rejected by his own panel of experts, prevented by federal courts, and now even his own investigators are backing away from it, it’s surprising he’s willing to show his face here.
If you refuse to enact meaningful reform and continue to attack our economy, then on August 29th, go play some golf, Mr. President.
Laura Curtis is a native New Orleanian.