All these years later does anyone doubt that the botched emergency response to Hurricane Katrina was a horror show?
With corpses floating in flooded streets and people trapped on rooftops days after the levees broke flooding New Orleans, emergency help and later federal aid to rebuild was extraordinarily slow in coming. The clueless response to one of the deadliest and costliest natural disasters in the nation’s history was a national disgrace.
That seems lost in the current tempest in a teapot over a 2007 video of then Illinois Senator Barack Obama railing about how the federal government failed Katrina victims, in a speech before a largely black audience at Hampton University in Virginia.
In the video unearthed Tuesday by the conservative blog The Daily Caller, Obama implied the difference in how previous disasters were handled may have had something to do with the race of the residents of New Orleans. But he concluded the Bush administration "was colorblind in its incompetence."
In the speech, which was delivered during the run-up to the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, Obama specifically criticized the administration’s failure to immediately waive a provision of the federal Stafford Act requiring communities crippled by disaster to match 10 percent of federal aid.
“When 9/11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act...and that was the right thing to do. When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said ‘look at this devastation. We don’t expect you to come up with your own money. Here, here’s the money to rebuild. We’re not going to wait for you to scratch it together, because you’re part of the American family,’” Obama said. “What’s happening down in New Orleans? Where’s your Stafford Act money? Makes no sense,” he said. “Tells me that somehow the people down in New Orleans they don’t care about as much.”
The matching funds provision was later waived for much of the aid.
In a broader critique, Obama questioned federal transportation priorities arguing Washington should pay more attention to the nation’s urban cores where a lot of poor, and yes, black people live.
He also gave a shout out to since discredited Rev. Jeremiah Wright, lauding him at the time as a national leader. Obama, of course, later distanced himself from the pastor after some of his racially inflammatory comments became public. But that’s old news. The rest of the video is too.
It’s probably no coincidence that this video is making the rounds just hours before the first presidential debate between Obama and Republican candidate.
Mitt "47 percent" Romney has a video problem of his own.