With hurricane Isaac bearing down on the Gulf Coast on much the same path as Katrina, the left-wing media were almost gleeful this week to repeat their earlier narrative that the 2005 Category 5 storm was pretty much Bush’s fault.
They no doubt found Isaac’s proximity to the Republican National Convention delicious, and seemed to hope Isaac would cast a partisan pall over the proceedings.
In truth, while the Bush administration badly fumbled both preparation and recovery, a later congressional investigation cited significant failures at the state and local levels as well – notably with Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Democrats both. Nagin, in particular, seemed to be in way over his head as much as his flooded constituents, failing to provide for timely evacuations; his belated evacuation order came less than 24 hours before landfall.
And no one adequately prepared for the hell that the Superdome became, with 25,000 frightened, hungry and thirsty refugees.
A poll days after Katrina found that more people blamed state and local officals than federal. That held true in a subsequent poll. Today, it’s all Bush’s fault, according to the media. Thus is the simple power of repetition.
What’s most important now is what was learned. What was learned by all those officials who dropped the ball can be summed up neatly in the old adage: better safe than sorry. No one in public office today wants to wear the scarlet letter of Katrina – and so, warnings and preparations today for Isaac are hopefully more than adequate.
We should also remember that not even the best preparations can protect against every whim of nature. Ultimately, we are not in charge.
Nor should it be lost in the flood of post-Katrina recriminations that the most important and pivotal level of emergency preparedness occurs not at the federal, state or municipal level – but with each individual and each family and each neighborhood.
Failure can occur at every one of those levels. And so can success.