In a piece for Fox News, President George W. Bush’s former special assistant argues that Bush should get more praise for his apparent miraculous role in the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.
New Orleans has certainly bounced back since Hurricane Katrina, but by no means has the city fully recovered economically or psychologically. Bush was trashed for this poor leadership and slow federal response in the immediate aftermath of Katrina and throughout his presidency; the 10 years of uneven recovery, leaving many behind completely, are proof that he deserved it.
As Kanye West so masterfully noted in 2005 while Mike Myers looked on in horror, the government’s delayed reaction likely had something to do with the city’s majority black and poor population. In this Fox News opinion piece published on Wednesday, Jason Recher—who also served as Sarah Palin’s senior adviser during the 2008 presidential campaign—ignores the city’s still tense race relations and economic disparity, and instead explains why the prescient former POTUS should get more kudos for all he’s done to restore the city’s greatness.
Recher currently lives in New Orleans. He writes:
As the 10 year anniversary of Katrina approaches, media reports, studies and first-hand accounts point to an almost unimaginable renaissance for New Orleans in the years since the storm. It’s not surprising, however, that they also ignore that the rebirth of New Orleans would not have been possible without the political and personal commitment of President George W. Bush, and the generosity of the American people.
All hail the white savior. Recher continues:
On that September night in 2005, George W. Bush made his promise to the Crescent City clear. While Speaker Dennis Hastert was telling Americans their 38th largest city should be bulldozed and abandoned, President Bush was resolute. He confidently said, “All who question the future of the Crescent City need to know: There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again.” In his speech, Bush committed to not only rebuilding the city, but making it stronger.
Recher goes on to cite the $52 billion aid and recovery package that Bush pushed Congress to pass, Bush’s decision to host the international summit in New Orleans in 2008, and all those times that Bush got his hands dirty while visiting the area to help rebuild.
Bush certainly wasn’t completely inactive in his efforts, but in rewriting the narrative Recher almost makes him sound like Captain Planet:
President Bush knew entrepreneurship was the economic path forward for the region, and that night promised that “we will take the side of entrepreneurs as they lead the economic revival of the Gulf region.” Today, New Orleans has truly become an “idea village.” Successful startups like Dinnerlab and Kickstarter are based here. The city exceeds the national rate of entrepreneurship by over 64 percent.
Tourism is great, the school system is better, and movies are being shot there, etc. etc. Again, the legitimacy of all this depends on who you ask, but either way it’s not a complete rosy view.
In the above piece for Jezebel, New Orleans community activist Ashana Bigard says:
“I feel like there are just these gigantic doors everywhere that are just locked to old New Orleanians. If you lived here before the storm, they don’t want you. Except for if a movie studio is shooting a scene with Mardi Gras Indians or something—that seems to be the exception. It’s depressing, but it’s the reality.”
But, if you ask Recher:
Dark memories of Katrina will linger always, but the promise of what’s ahead shines even brighter than those temporary television lighting used in Jackson Square that night, now ten years ago, thanks to the promises President Bush made and commitments he kept. On this anniversary, this city owes him thanks. I think we’ll stop by for beignets in his honor.
Thank you, Bush. Thank you.
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