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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

George W. Bush Takes the Long View


“I don’t spend a lot of time really worrying about short-term history. I guess I don’t worry about long-term history, either, since I’m not going to be around to read it [laughs].”

—George W. Bush, “I Did Not Compromise My Principles,”
interview with ABC’s Charles Gibson (12/1/08)



Part of the history that Mr. Bush won’t be reading can be found in a transcript of his speech from Jackson Square on Sept. 15, 2005, two weeks after Hurricane Katrina. Rather, historians can note the great gulf between the promises made in that speech (examples below) and the inaction that followed. More than fifteen visits to New Orleans and vicinity, which the President repeatedly referred to as “that part of the world,” were not accompanied by a concerted federal effort to rebuild the city and region, its schools and hospitals and housing, its infrastructure, or its storm protection systems whose funding had been repeatedly whittled down by Bush administration budgets before the storm.

“I also offer this pledge of the American people: Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes—we will stay as long as it takes—to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives.”

“. . . the Federal government will undertake a close partnership with the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, the city of New Orleans, and other Gulf Coast cities, so they can rebuild in a sensible, well planned way. Federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone, from roads and bridges to schools and water systems. Our goal is to get the work done quickly.”

“. . . when communities are rebuilt, they must be even better and stronger than before the storm. . . . the Army Corps of Engineers will work at [N.O. and Louisiana officials’] side to make the flood protection system stronger than it has ever been.”

This president will be leaving office soon, but our work goes on . . .

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