Bush Vows New Orleans Will Rise Again In Massive Gulf Coast Reconstruction

President George Bush has called for a massive reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, coupled with an enterprise zone, more clearly delineated lines of federal and military authority — plus more local control.

It was a well-crafted, workman-like speech filled with content — specifics on what the administration will seek to do to deal with the aftermath of not just one of the worst storms in American history but one of the worst political firestorms. At times it seemed akin to the crises addresses of past Presidents from the Oval Office. And in watching the speech, one key thought kept jumping out: this is the kind of speech that would have had even greater impact if it had been delivered a few days ago from the Oval Office.(For some reason this administration doesn’t seem to use the highly symbolic office for its Presidential addresses).

And Bush offered some specifics about the storm that in all has taken some 800 lives (so far) in several states. Some highlights from the speech include:

  • A vow to not only rebuild New Orleans (thus squelching suggestions by some that the city might not really be rebuilt) and the Gulf Coast but rebuilt it better:”America wants the Gulf Coast not just to survive but to thrive.” Another passsage: “”The work that has begun in the Gulf Coast region will be one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen.”
  • A vow to make emergency planning a national priority.
  • A reiteration of him taking responsibility for the federal performance, coupled with comments about local and state failings as well.

Some other thoughts on:
STYLE: This was clearly a well-rehearsed and delivered speech. The tone was fine but, again, the timing of the speech — coming after the huge controversy over the federal performance, local and state failings, the resignation of FEMA chief Michael Brown plus new allegations about Michael Chertoff — in practical terms are likely to have diminished its impact.
ERRORS: There was no massive political blunders here and it didn’t seem like a typical partisan speech. A minimum of Peggy Noonan-like rhetorical flourishes (in other words: that’s a plus).
BIGGEST ROADBLOCKS: The cost (will conservatives go along with it and what will have to be jettisoned from the agenda to do it?). The linering issue of the investigation: Bush seemed to skirt or downplay the kind of investigation pressed by GOPers in Congress and be reaching out for some kind of broader investigation (but it was vague enough that time will tell on that one).
LIKELIHOOD TO CHANGE MINDS: At this writing it’s too early to tell but at first glance it seems unlikely to spark a huge poll shift. It may gain some irked voters back, but is unlikely to change Democratic minds. Independent voters in recent surveys have leaned more towards Democratic positions. BUT if the speech signals of a serious disaster relief effort that truly entails bipartisan “input” and a detatchment from political manuevers, it could be a good start.
WHAT IT MEANS TO VICTIMS: Mobilization of the private sector and a seeming perception that this could be a disaster that could be used to put some conservative approaches into action.
IMAGERY: Is a President in a button down shirt standing in front of a building a more majestic and institution reinforcing image than a President dressed in a suit and tie talking from the Oval Office? Apparently some bigwigs think so.

Earlier today, on weblogs and talk radio shows there already seemed to be several perceptions of Bush’s speech — even before details it it leaked out. Some believed (a)it would be a sincere mega-reconstruction effort, (b)it would be an announcement of a big effort that would largely be aimed at political damage control, (c)it would be the announcement of a big program that would bust the budget and eventually help shrink government the way some want it reduced.

But this speech seemed a typical Presidential disaster relief speech where people may quibble over details but not about it’s importance or it not having content.

The New York Times (linked in the first paragraph) reports:

He said that the Gulf Opportunity Zone, encompassing Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, would provide tax incentives and loans for small businesses that create jobs, including, he pointed out, minority-owned enterprises. Mr. Bush also said the federal government would provide evacuees with accounts of up to $5,000 that they could use for job training and education.

In addition, he asked Congress to pass what he called the Urban Homesteading Act, which would provide building sites on federal land through a lottery to low-income citizens, free of charge. In return, he said, residents would pledge to build on the lots, with either a mortgage or help from a charitable organization like Habitat for Humanity….

Mr. Bush did not offer cost estimates for his proposals, but they were drawn from the kind of experiments – with “opportunity zones” and tax incentives – that Republicans have greatly preferred to huge federal spending efforts. The president seemed to try to balance a comprehensive government plan with an assurance that Washington would back away and allow Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama – and the city of New Orleans – to decide how to rebuild.

Dan Balz, writing in the Washington Post, said it was A Bid To Repair A Presidency:

The main text of President Bush’s nationally televised address last night was the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, but the clear subtext was the rebuilding of a presidency that is now at its lowest point ever, confronted by huge and simultaneous challenges at home and abroad — and facing a country divided along partisan and racial lines.

Hurricane Katrina struck at the core of Bush’s presidency by undermining the central assertion of his reelection campaign, that he was a strong and decisive leader who could keep the country safe in a crisis. Never again will he or his advisers be able to point to his often-praised performance after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, without being reminded of the fumbling and slow-off-the-mark response of his administration after the hurricane and the flooding in New Orleans.

And you can see here that Great Minds Think Alike:

His response to these criticisms last night was a speech largely shorn of soaring rhetoric and stirring turns of phrase of the kind that marked his reaction to the terrorist attacks. Instead, as if recognizing that his own road back will be one marked by steady but small steps, he spoke with workmanlike focus, spelling out the details of what has been done and will be done to help those displaced by the storm. He also took responsibility again for the government’s failures.

Katrina has added an enormous new burden to a presidency already bending under the stresses of public dissatisfaction with Bush’s policies in Iraq and growing anger over rising gas prices. Bush’s objective last night was to set out a strategy and commitment for recovery along the Gulf Coast. But the critical question is whether the damage will limit his ability to govern effectively in the remaining 40 months of his presidency and whether he will be able to focus on, let alone win approval for, major initiatives other than Katrina and Iraq.

Second-term slumps hit every reelected president, but often they come later than this one. Bush has little time to waste to rejuvenate his governing capacity, given the reality that lame-duck status awaits him in the not-too-distant future. But just as it will take time to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, it may take many months for Bush to rebound from what now troubles his presidency.

“You would have thought there was a reservoir of good will for President Bush, but the dissatisfaction with Iraq and gas prices provided a negative predicate for what happened on first of September,” said Ross K. Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University. “Therefore, the road back to recovery will be longer and more difficult.”

Reaction in Congress was mixed since it followed predictable party lines. Bush was praised by Louisiana’s governor and GOP leaders but not Democratic leaders. Go to the link for all of the reaction but here’s one snippet:

“The Gulf Coast region does not deserve to be treated as a laboratory for political opportunism or ideological experimentation. Now is the time for unity.” _ Joint statement by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Knight-Ridder Newspapers (note TMV worked for KRN’s Wichita Eagle Beacon for several years) has a piece that also includes this note about the speech’s context:

His address, carefully staged by a White House advance crew, came as he faced the lowest job approval ratings of his presidency, driven down by the federal response to the hurricane and the war in Iraq, which has become increasingly unpopular at home.

Public opinion polls also show a rising concern regarding the administration’s ability to juggle fiscal and other resources between the war abroad and hurricane relief at home.

“This is a stunning event,” said Stephen Hess, professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University. Assessing the hurricane aftermath, “and how he responds to it for the rest of his administration is very much part of what his legacy is going to be,” Hess said.

David Corn sees it this way:

My hunch is that many Americans are in a show-me mood. After Bush won the last election with less than 51 percent of the vote, this fellow claimed he had amassed political capital that he could spend as he saw fit. He was wrong. And his political capital–if recent polling is to be believed–seems to be, like his budgets, in deep deficit. That was before Hurricane Katrina, when the mess in Iraq and high gas prices were dominating the bad news. So Bush will not be getting off cheap with a moderately well-delivered speech in which he expressed noble sentiments and presented reasonably sounding–though generalized–proposals for assisting the victims of Hurricane Katrina and for rebuilding the Crescent City and other areas of the Gulf Coast.

Indeed, the speech is unlikely to end the clamor for specifics about what went wrong on the federal, local and state levels, but it didn’t inflame the situation — and offered a game-plan for moving the region way from catastrophe to recovery. As the saying goes: “the devil is in the details” — like, in the execution in terms of money, legislation, skilled administrators — and skilled politicos who can defuse the political crisis that the White House hopes the speech will quell.

The transcript of the President’s full remarks are here and the no-nonsense nature of this speech comes through. You can view a video of the speech here

A CROSS SECTION OF OTHER VOICES REACTING TO THE SPEECH (note that these are excerpts so we encourage you to click on the link and read the entire posts and explore these weblogs):

–The great GOP website Red State has an open thread with fascinating Republican reaction to the speech. Read all of them (which are increasing as we write this) but here are a few:

(1) I think i count 73 $’s.Conservatively estimating we’ll spend 250 billion on all that…stuff… that’s 3,424,657.53 per dollar sign. I think your post should have been longer.

I think his speech was 21 minutes, so that’s $11,904,761,904.76 per minute.Can we please go back and look at the Medicare, Energy, Transportation, Appropriations, Farm, and whatever else is necessary?

I agree with Bush that we need to invest in the area, honestly I do. But we can’t be all things to all people. We have to make some serious changes at the Federal level, or we’ll be looking to Venezuela for fiscal advice.
(2) Rumor is that Karl Rove will be the reconstruction czar… Doesnt look good on paper to put the political guy in charge of a reconstruction project.
(3)What I hear: By: Erick
$$$$
$$$$$$$ (…the more dollar signs…TMV and)
God Bless America.
(4) He’s switching over now…… to tax incentives and entrepeneurship. Better. Erick, what were you expecting?

The reality is, we’re doing it for Iraqis to build a stronger society over there. Why not try it here? Better this than the Great Society, no?

skippy’s cookie jill (writes only in lower case) (some excerpts):

notes to awol…
what does 9/11 have to do with hurricane katrina?
so the folks at halliburton, bechtel, etc. are residents of new orleans, biloxi, and other hard hit gulf areas?
…..
any idea on how to pay for this rebuilding?
…..
you think building “higher and higher” is the right thing to do in a sinking city?

Americablog has several items including this live-blogging post:

Ok, I got bored at 4 minutes after the hour, seriously. Now he’s 13 minutes in and I’m totally lost. This should have been a short and sweet speech. And by the way, did he take responsibility anywhere in this speech? Oh here we go, 20 minutes into the speech, he’s responsible…..

Ooh, he just avoided endorsing the GOP plan for their own partisan study of the Katrina disaster. He said he’d work with Congress to look at the problem, he never said he was endorsing the GOP plan, that’s interesting, but might have been an oversight.

The All Spin Zone:

I listened to most of George Bush’s speech tonight from New Orleans. There were several things about it that struck me, but probably none more than his acknowledgement that some of the laws of “federalismâ€? get in the way of responding to an event like Hurricane Katrina.

This is bothersome to me. While I think that everyone can agree that responses on the federal, state, and local levels were slow (at least in the most visible area, New Orleans), I’m not sure I liked the tenor of his admission.

Bogus Gold’s Doug Williams says he didn’t watch the speech but he writes:

I flipped over a couple of times. Marveled at the way a man with a whole staff devoted to handling his image gave him a shirt the same color as the buildings behind him. Noted that he was performing about as expected. Got quickly bored. Realized most of the rest of the nation was doing the same. Switched back to the TCU / Utah football game on ESPN (excellent game by the way)….

My question – Will the promise of the federal government to give a blank check to underwrite hurricane relief encourage or discourage more of these independent efforts? My gut feeling is that it will discourage them. My gut (wise thing that it is) also tells me it would have been political suicide for the president to do anything other than promise a federal blank-check to hurricane relief tonight.

But I’m unsettled by the thought that our political system may be depressing rather than encouraging America’s excellent instinct to volunteer in this relief effort. But darned if I have any solution to this that sounds remotely realistic to my own ears.

Captain Ed (also in the Great Minds Think Alike Club with TMV) writes:

Bush did a marvelous job of touching on the despair, the heroism, the personal stories that touch hearts and motivate us to greater efforts, as well as the policy decisions that will spring from Katrina’s aftermath. Unfortunately, this speech came about a week late. He may well undo the political damage done by the massive confusion of the first few days in the weeks and months ahead if he can quickly start rebuilding and returning people to their neighborhoods, but Bush missed an opportunity to not only demonstrate leadership but to instill a sense of confidence by getting out in front of the cameras like this last week or by the weekend at the latest….

First, the nation didn’t see him performing those tasks, and in a time of national crisis — which the White House clearly did not immediately understand this to be — Bush turned into a technocrat when we needed him with a bullhorn, lifting our spirits. People respond to leaders who roll up their sleeves and get involved, even if just to bring smiles to the faces of the nameless heroes and victims of the tragedy. The tone-deaf response of the flyover did some political damage, and it should have never happened.

Second, it turns out that Bush and the team in Washington didn’t get good data from their team on the ground. They may have made their decisions based on good faith in the information and their sources, but even within FEMA and the other agencies involved, the confusion that snarled efforts after the levees broke clearly reached all the way to DC. Bush himself acknowledged that in tonight’s speech by acknowledging that rules have to be rewritten to allow for federal intervention in disasters of this scope.

Daily Pundit:

No, the American taxpayer – not the federal government – is going to foot that 200 billion dollar bill which, like all government spending, will probably exceed the half-trillion dollar level when the final bushels of pork get barbecued, NOLA-style.

Conservatives probably thought at one time that GWB understood the difference between “government money” and “taxpayer money,” to wit: the second exists, the first does not.

You already know how I feel about Bush’s whining apologies. In the future I’ll probably just skip trying to defend this wet noodle, and proceed straight to the butt-kicking.

Extreme Catholic:”I thought it was a good speech but not a great speech and it had nothing that I’d consider memorable. The President needed to make a speech to avoid the criticism that he didn’t have an idea how to proceed.”
Michelle Malkin:”Low point of the address: Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t there something tacky about having the leader of the free world reading a phone number from the teleprompter? Also, it’s been three weeks and they’re only now publicizing a number for Katrina families looking for missing relatives? Nowpublic.com and countless other sites like it were up and running by 9am on Aug. 30. Just saying…”
Think Progress has GOP talking points for the speech.
Centerfield:

No joke. I thought Chris Matthews said it best when he said that this is a speech we would expect from Lyndon Johnson or Franklin Roosevelt, not George W. Bush.

I think this President has seen poverty at it worse over the last few weeks and has been touched by it, enough to do something he hasn’t been capable of up until now: admit failure and take responsibility for it. Of course, John Kerry was also right when he said there was really no other option for him.

Steve Soto:”It was a speech long on flourishing rhetoric, statistics on what the federal government has done, albeit too late in many cases, and some specific but unambitious proposals…Oh, and how is Bush going to pay for all of this? Funny, he didn’t say anything about that.”
Matt Welch:”A good speech, I thought, and I say that through clenched teeth.”
Donklephant:”I too agree that Bush’s numbers will go up because he offered so many solutions. But that’s trivial right now, and only confined to the blogosphere. Let’s hope he delivers on his promises…and then some…”
The Talking Dog as usual has a newspaper-column like post written in his own inimitable style. Read it in full but here’s a small part of it:

Of course, given that there wasn’t any money in the federal budget to, say, shore up the levees and flood wall system in such a way as to have, say, resulted in less damage in the first place, one wonders where the massively greater amount of money to clean up the mess will be coming from. I think the answer there will be “from Beijing to Bayou” (via Bechtel, of course). Deficits don’t matter… Ronald Reagan proved that….

Anyway, with all this, the Bushmen just figure we’ll see (1) a smilin’ new Supreme Court Chief Justice, a virtual clone of the late prior Chief Justice (not to mention his law clerk!) and (2) more opportunities to get Karl himself off the front page, and now, (3) a massive new government spending opportunity! I won’t even start with “you know what they’d say if a Democrat proposed this…” What would be the point? (Turns out Brownie was doing a heck of a job! But for his criminal incompetence, this massive pork-barrel sweetheart contract program might have been less politically palatable.)

The party of small government, ladies and gentlemen… it’ll be here all week (at least). Well, it’s small in the sense of its response to the needs of the people, anyway. Especially in times of dire need. At least we can be sure that we’ll get the same great level of government service from the Bush Administration in the next 3 1/2 years as we have received in the last 4 1/2….

Powerline:”The President was at his best tonight…..You can call it FDR/LBJ liberalism, big government conservatism, or compassionate conservatism. I call it American-style pragmatism (a more restrained style of pragmatism might dictate that we simply forego rebuilding New Orleans) and, as such, it will unite most of the country. Indeed, Lorie Byrd at PoliPundit notes that, to the apparent chagrin of ABC News, it seems to have united flood victims who watched the speech at the Astrodome.”
Wendy Button:

It was a strong speech. Despite those certain things that were left out: a call for sacrifice, how we’re going to pay for all of this, and the need for an independent commission, it was the kind of speech that can pull us forward so that America and the Gulf Coast can reach that “second line.”

It is remarkable that a Republican president has proposed a massive public works project coupled with a new purpose to fight poverty at home and abroad. It makes me wish that someone from the Democratic side had said some of those things two weeks ago — proposed those ideas and showed vision and leadership when there was such a void. But it was President Bush who reminded us of where we’ve been so that we could rebuild.

Blogs for Bush has a post by Sister Toldjah that must be read in full. A small part:

I think for the most part the President said what needed to be said. I only wish he would have addressed the race issue some, but perhaps that will come later.

I want to address this part of my post to fiscal conservatives out there. I consider myself a social moderate but on fiscal issues, I am solidly conservative. I am upset at how a Republican-controlled Congress and administration have spent like wildfire over the last five years with very little concern for fiscal responsibility and accountability.

That said, the reactions on programs like Joe Scarborough’s from other fiscal conservatives have me shaking my head in wonderment. They seem to be flipping out over the fact that the rebuilding effort is probably going to cost around $200 billion – and if we’re honest with ourselves, I think it’s safe to say it’s going to cost more than that when all is said and done.

Josh Marshall decries media coverage and writes, in part:

There’s real news to be reported — how the president is approaching the reconstruction, what plans he’s putting in place right now. He’s put his chief political operative in charge of running the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast. Shouldn’t that be raising a lot of questions — a man whose entire professional experience is in political messaging and patronage?…

The president’s first major initiatives were deep wage cuts for the people who will do the reconstruction. Which paper is going to dig into this?

La Shawn Barber:

I didn’t listen to George Bush’s speech last night, but I’m told he plans to do what he does best: spend, spend, spend other people’s money. True?

And he didn’t sufficiently address the rampant Hurricane Katrina race-baiting. If he didn’t, that’s his fault. When it comes to liberals and the media, Bush is like the proverbial deer caught in headlines. What he’s afraid of, especially at this point in his presidency, I don’t know.

Bush could easily disarm the whole lot with a few “Who cares what you creeps think?� speeches from the heart designed to communicate the essence of conservatism and why it works in ways liberalism can’t begin to. Liberals and MSM hate him anyway, so what’s he got to lose? I wish I knew why he’s so timid and…hate to say it…ineffectual.

Pundit Guy:

Presidents who give away other peoples money have always given me a bad taste in my mouth. And tonight, while watching George W. Bush, that taste showed up.

Five minutes into the telecast, I expected Bush to pull a wad of bills out of his pocket and start running around laughing hysterically, handing the cash to anyone and everyone. I couldn’t hear his words anymore. All I could see was his hand reaching into my wallet. It’s like he drove me to my bank, walked me up to the ATM machine, put my debit card in and started punching in the pin number. Really! I’m thinking…”Hey, how does he know my pin number?” And then he starts emptying my checking AND savings account while I stand there dumbfounded…And before you accuse me of the big switch…forget it. I don’t believe for a second that a Democrat could behave any differently than Bush at this moment. The disease isn’t partisan.

This Modern World:

George W. Bush caring about the poor? That’s like saying Hamas has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reach out to the Jewish community. It ain’t gonna happen, buddy….Yeah, it’s just a bunch of recycled “ownership society” garbage from last year, polished up a bit so it doesn’t smell as much like……

I agree with the President’s stated goals, but let’s get real here. Poverty has gone up over the last four years, yet the President’s only plan to deal with a problem he’s been forced to address is to do the same thing he’s been trying to do all along? The problem here isn’t that there aren’t enough government incentives to help minority-owned small businesses, it’s that tens of thousands of people are living in makeshift homeless shelters. They don’t need chatter about home ownership, they need to know where the hell they’re going to get food, clean water, and a bed to sleep on. Telling a poor family with minimum wage earners that they should run their own business and own their own house sounds great on paper, but these patronizing ideas are about as constructive as telling someone with a broken leg that they should try to run a marathon.

–As usual, one of the most interesting and original takes comes from centrist Bull Moose. It must be read in its entirety, but here are some highlights:

Last night, Halloween came early as W. tried to present himself as an array of former Presidents. First, he attempted to connect with his inner LBJ. We now have a Republican President selling guns and butter. Goodbye Coolidge and hello FDR. Last night was devoted to articulating W’s Gulf Coast New Deal. There was a little dash of Reagan as the President articulated some “enterprise” ideas no doubt cooked up by some right wing propeller heads at a think tank. Finally, George W. Bush was channeling the theme of George H.W. Bush. – message, I care.

It was a perfectly pedestrian speech – however the words were disconnected from his Administration’s incompetence and indifference. Hopefully, it will be the harbinger of a new start. We will see.

The core problem that this punctuality-obsessed, exercise-crazed President faces is that he is presiding over disorder at home and abroad. The first obligation of government is the preservation of order. That might seem obvious, but politicians often ignore that maxim to their peril. And we usually hire Republican Presidents to restore and maintain order….And at the moment, America is lacking a “daddy party” to maintain order….(He writes about factions of the Democratic party.)The Moose asks the donkey – “Who’s your daddy?”

Booker Rising’s Shay:”I only saw a part of the speech, and it seemed decent. However, one question came across my mind: how much will it cost? Yet I was also intrigued by some of the proposals, so I will withhold judgment either way for now. And I agree that the speech came at least a week too late.”
Jesse Taylor’s reaction MUST be read in full because taking a few quotes doesn’t give the important context. So read it all..and we’ll try to distill a bit of it. He basically wonders if the GOP will press the line that Bush is one of the most tested Presidents in history. And he is amazed by some of the conservative reaction to the speech. He first quotes a post on another blog, then writes:

First, I’m glad that at least one conservative has enough principle to admit that tax cuts are, in fact, a part of promised government spending, and not some magical number that simply exists as “good” because it “limits government”. Second, I’m intensely disturbed by the fact that when the majority of an American city is destroyed, the most important focus of this to so many conservatives is that dirty welfare recipients are getting their money. For some reason, a constitutional democracy tasked with the care and safety of its citizens is in the wrong when it comes to their aid, because it costs money. It’s never, say, the massively expensive war we fought for a nebulous ideal of security or democracy that Bush still can’t properly define. It’s never the tax cuts, because those are “good” spending. It’s not the new inefficient bureaucracies that have popped up. It’s never anything that doesn’t end up helping poor people and minorities, because they need to learn to just buck the fuck up and get on with their lives.

Bloggledygook:

My favorite part of the speech was the beginning. Before the president spoke, in fact. Just as JFK ruined the hat business by appearing bare-headed at his inauguration, this event may signal the final triumph of casual disaster Thursdays. I can’t adequately explain my delight upon seeing Mr. Bush walk across a moist Jackson Square with his sleeves rolled up, although I would advise that he be a little more fashion-forward with his footwear. You know, something he can be comfortable in yet would fit nicely up the asses of the hapless apparatchiks who blundered their way through the last two weeks.

Ted Koppel, for one, is not amused. His prime time special beforehand had me at “crisis” but then went on to inform me that the whole mess was indeed a “failure.” Thanks, Ted. I was a little fuzzy on the concept until you confirmed my suspicions. After the speech, poor Dean Reynolds got punked by a jury of someone’s peers that didn’t seem to have gotten the memo. It is informative that while dry, well-fed pundits are implored to get angry, the recently wet and hungry would just as soon give the president the benefit of the doubt.

Conservative Thinking:

Let’s face it, fiscal Conservatives, we’re not going to get Louisiana and Mississippi rebuilt without spending money. I’m not sure I like the fact of handing New Orleans and Louisiana blank checks but if there are rules and regulations for spending then I’ll be a tad more willing to swallow the $200 billion pill.

My question is where is this money going to come from? Can Senator Byrd cut some of his pork barrel projects in West Virginia? Can Congress reanalyze the budget and say sorry to a few non-essential spending measures for the next few years? There is a lot of money being spent and a lot more about to be spent that my four year old daughter doesn’t need to be picking the tab up for.

Also, if anyone campaigns in 2008 against the premise of “big spending” Republicans I’ll be forced to remind them what we’ve been spending that money on.

–California Conservative:”Overall, we grade the speech a B+….The President shouldn’t be so generous with our money. Not to sound insensitive, but it’s presumptious to think that every evacuee was employeed or interested in working in the first place. Some may not be. And $5,000 is a lot of money to offer “for child care expenses.â€?”
Gay Patriot:

Rather than play the blame game, the president wants to know what went wrong in the aftermath of Katrina so we can be better prepared for disasters of this magnitude in the future as well as for terrorist attacks.

He focused not only on the scope of the disaster, but also on the size of the relief effort and spelled out how much had been done in such a short time. He highlighted one of the best qualities of our people, that “powerful American determination to clear the ruins and build better than before.� And like a true American, even while recognizing the enormity of the task ahead, the president made clear that we’re up to it.

Daily Kos’ Hunter:

The person who is being placed in charge of the Gulf Coast rebuilding effort, in the wake of stunning government bungling of a national disaster due to political patrons who had no expertise in their ostensible “duties” for which they were collecting paychecks: yes, Karl Rove. And apparently, nobody in the media has a problem with this, because we’re essentially all used to the notion that the manner in which, for example, primarily-black neighborhoods in New Orleans get rebuilt, or not, is a task best left to the President’s loyal election strategist…

True Conservatives are tonight up in arms over the cost of rebuilding New Orleans, and demand budget cuts to pay for it. Budget cuts deemed necessary to pay for the Iraq War? None. Zip. Nada. Well, a few minor levees that nobody really cares about or will ever notice…

BOP News’ Hale Stewart:”Last night, Bush once again decided the best thing to do to gain popularity was to buy people’s affection without asking for any sacrifice. While I am sympathetic to the after-affects of Katrina and also believe something should be done, I also understand it will require sacrifice. The US cannot go through its fiscal life without recognizing it can’t afford everything it wants. It cannot give money away to the well off, fight a voluntary war, spend recklessly on non-prioritized domestic needs and rebuild an area destroyed by a hurricane. By believing it can, Bush has placed the United States – a country I love and hold very dear for all it stands for – in a position to fall into economic ruin.”

















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