As we head into the new year, with an eye on the upcoming, all-important mid-term elections, let’s take a look back at how two different presidents handled a crisis, shall we? These events are separate; each having their own hurdles and problems, but both tied to the same geographic area.
On one hand, we have President George W. Bush and one of the major crises of his administration – that would be Hurricane Katrina. And on the other, we have President Barack H. Obama and his response to the Gulf Oil Spill.
On April 20, 2010 the deep water oil platform, Deepwater Horizon suffers an explosion so intense that the 11 rig workers bodies were never recovered. For two days the platform burns and on the 22nd, another explosion sends the platform to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. At this point, thousands of gallons of crude oil are spilling into the gulf each day. President Obama waits nine days from the first explosion to even make a public statement about the disaster. He pledges “every single available resource” to respond to this emergency. In total, he waits an astonishing 12 days to even tour the affected areas. He won’t see the area again until over a month after the original explosion, when he visits again on May 28, 2010.
Backtrack to 2007 and then candidate Obama said, of the Bush administration’s response to Katrina: “Part of the problem, I’ll be honest with you, I just don’t think there is a sense of urgency in the White House, where the president is cracking the whip, day in, day out, and saying, ‘Why is it that we’re not getting this done?'” Obama said.
Continuing on with President Obama’s response to the Gulf Oil Spill, President Obama denied the offered help from the Dutch government who made available the latest in oil skimming technology, citing the Jones Act. It is interesting to note that President Bush issued a temporary waiver of the Jones Act following Katrina – despite having received campaign donations from the Seafarer’s International Union in 2000 and 2004.
In little more than one month since the first explosion, President Obama engaged in a week of vacation, several fundraisers, several campaign events, attended 7 sporting events and played over a half dozen rounds of golf. Let’s just remind President Obama of candidate Obama’s words, “I’ll be honest with you, I just don’t think there is a sense of urgency in the White House, where the president is cracking the whip, day in, day out, and saying, ‘Why is it that we’re not getting this done?”
Almost 45 days into the Gulf Oil Spill, President Obama sends Attorney General Eric Holder and a team of Justice Department lawyers down to the gulf area. On day 58 of the disaster, President Obama assigns a “Blue Ribbon” panel to investigate the causes of the BP Gulf Oil Spill. He also tells the Today Show that he wants to know, “…whose ass to kick.”
By July 15, 2010 BP announces that it has capped the well and the oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico has been stopped.
Now let’s shift our focus back to August of 2005 when Hurricane Katrina tore into the gulf region of the United States, leaving death and destruction in its’ wake.
President Bush was already on a working vacation at his ranch in Texas. He flew over the area ravaged by Katrina, deciding that landing Air Force One, which would necessitate shutting down the New Orleans or Baton Rouge airports, would hamper rescue efforts. He actually cut his “vacation” short to fly back to DC to coordinate the federal response.
It is worth noting that Bush faced tough opposition from New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and then Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco. Both were contacted by the National Hurricane Center and urged to put evacuation plans into motion. Both Nagin and Blanco decided not to. In fact, President Bush declared the areas affected by Katrina a national disaster area BEFORE Blanco did on a state level. He did this to facilitate advanced preparations.
Donna Brazile, a pundit that works for CNN and is a former Vice Chairwoman for voter registration for the Democratic National Committee, has been known to be a harsh critic of President Bush. However, she wrote an article titled, “Brazile: Bush Came Through on Katrina,” about her experience with President Bush during her work on the Lousiana State Commission overseeing the long-term recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
She wrote, “George W. Bush was good as his word. He visited the Gulf States 17 times; went 13 times to New Orleans. Laura Bush made 24 trips. Bush saw that $126 billion in aid was sent to the Gulf’s residents, as some members of his own party in Congress balked. Bush put a special emphasis on rebuilding schools and universities. He didn’t forget African-Americans: Bush provided $400 million to the historically black colleges, now integrated, that remain a pride, and magnet for African-American students. Laura Bush, a librarian, saw to it that thousands of books ruined by the floods were replaced. To this day, there are many local libraries with tributes devoted to her efforts.”
And speaking of Bush being as good as his word, as it relates to the Katrina recovery, President Bush signed the following seven acts into law:
* Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act to Meet Immediate Needs Arising From the Consequences of Hurricane Katrina
* Second Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act to Meet Immediate Needs Arising From the Consequences of Hurricane Katrina
* 2005 Flexibility for Displaced Workers Act
* Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act of 2005
* QI, TMA, and Abstinence Programs Extension
* the Hurricane Katrina Unemployment Relief Act of 2005
* the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005
Oh, and the number of acts President Obama has signed into law as relates to the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico?