President Bush will tour the hurricane devastated Gulf Coast region on Friday and has asked former Presidents Clinton and Bush to lead a private fund-raising campaign to help victims recover, the White House said Thursday.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush will survey the hardest-hit areas by helicopter, then tour some locations on the ground.
I think he’s visiting at the right time – going immediately after the aftermath would have created even more confusion and chaos then what we’re seeing now.
I’m not surprised to see some of the usual suspects criticizing his response to the Gulf Cost devastation.
As Matt (at B4B) pointed out in an earlier post, the President just can’t seem to please the editorial board at the NYTimes, who I have no doubt are speaking on behalf of many of their liberal readers. I’ve seen posts at message boards as well as blogs playing the usual "blame W" game, and mentioning the recent cuts in the Army Corps of Engineers funding. What they don’t note (of course) in their zeal to blame this disaster on the President is that ACE has been been a target of budget cuts/underfunding since 1965 (reg. required):
Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the corps’ chief of engineers, said late Wednesday that the corps’ requests cited in Landrieu’s figures were the amount that would be needed to finish the work in a given year. But he said the corps, working with the administration, rarely requests the full amount in the budget.
"There are limited resources and there are huge demands on it," he said. "Very rarely do we fund at full capability."
Even if the projects had been funded at the highest amounts, Strock said it might not have changed the situation in downtown New Orleans. He said the levee near the 17th Street Canal, where one of the breaches occurred that emptied water into the city, was fully completed.
A corps plan to shore up the levees began in 1965 and was supposed to be finished in 10 years but remains incomplete. "They’ve never put enough money in to complete it," [former Republican Mississippi congressman Michael] Parker said. He said the corps’ budget has been regularly targeted by the White House because public works projects are perceived as pork and aren’t considered "sexy."
The Chicago Tribune article works hard to try and blame the levee breaks on the Bush Administration, but reading between the lines you’ll note as I did regarding how far back the inadequate funding for the ACE actually started. I wonder if those blaming Bush today are prepared to blame 6 past presidents as well, eh? I mean, afterall, cutting funding for the ACE under this administration is worth mentioning to them – why not mention the rest?
We know why.
(Cross posted at BlogsForBush)
More: Rob at Say Anything notes an article from the Editor and Publisher that discusses how funding for ACE was decreased in favor of spending more money on the war in Iraq and predicts that this information will no doubt be a rallying cry for the anti-Iraq war leftists. He also notes:
Its clear that there should have been more done with these levees. The funding should have been there, the projects should have been completed. That being said, this cannot be used as an indictment of the Iraq war. The war was neccessary and it was the right decision. If funding the war put a squeeze on Congress maybe they should have cut back on the number of $1,500,000 bus stops they’ve funded.
(Note: Had to edit the time stamp on this one and made a guess as to what time I posted it – changed it by accident and meant to change the time stamp on my Hurricane Katrina relief blogging post instead. Oops! –ST)