The Corner

Hackfest

An excerpt of Mary Landrieu on Fox News Sunday yesterday:

WALLACE: I think it’s fair to say that both of you have been very tough on the federal response in the first days after Katrina hit.

Senator Vitter, you gave FEMA an “F” and then, you have this to say — and let’s put it up on the screen: The agency “has been completely dysfunctional, completely overwhelmed.”

Senator Landrieu, speaking on the Senate floor on Thursday, you were even tougher. Let’s look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANDRIEU: And I intend to find out why the federal — particularly the response of FEMA — was so incompetent and insulting to the people of our states.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Senator Landrieu, I want to ask you — and I’ll ask you both, but let me start with you — about the local response.

Was it incompetent and insulting for Mayor Ray Nagin to order a mandatory evacuation, but then to leave buses — and we have a picture of them — hundreds of buses idle, so that they could be flooded, instead of using them to get people out.

LANDRIEU: Well, Chris, I was there, as you know, through the whole ordeal with state and local officials, and was right there with Louisiana Democrats and Republicans, city council members, police chiefs, mayors, the governors, and could watch what Haley Barbour was doing and Governor Riley in Alabama.

I am not going to level criticism at the local level. These people did…

WALLACE: But I’d like you to answer, if you could, this one specific question.

LANDRIEU: Well, I will. I will answer it. I am not going to level criticism at local and state officials. Mayor Nagin and most mayors in this country have a hard time getting their people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out of the city in front of a hurricane. And it’s because this administration and administrations before them do not understand the difficulties that mayors — whether they are in Orlando, Miami, or New Orleans — face.

(CROSSTALK)

LANDRIEU: In other words, this administration did not believe in mass transit. They won’t even get people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out…

WALLACE: But Senator, there were hundreds of buses sitting in that parking lot. Can I just ask the question?

LANDRIEU: You can, but let me finish, if I could, please.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: Well, look in the picture here. There were hundreds of buses in parking lots. The city and the state.

LANDRIEU: That is underwater. Those…

WALLACE: It wasn’t underwater before the…

LANDRIEU: Those buses were underwater. Those buses…

WALLACE: They weren’t underwater on Saturday; they weren’t underwater on Sunday.

LANDRIEU: We had two catastrophes. We had a hurricane and then we had a levee break. When the levee broke, not only did New Orleans go underwater, but St. Bernard when underwater and St. Tammany Parish went underwater.

WALLACE: But they weren’t underwater on Sunday.

LANDRIEU: And Plaquemines went underwater. And because the mayor evacuated the city, we had the best evacuation between Haley Barbour and Kathleen Blanco of any evacuation I’ve seen. I’m 50 years old; I’ve never seen one any better.

WALLACE: But there were a hundred thousand people left in the city.

LANDRIEU: They did a hundred thousand people left in the city because this federal government won’t support cities to evacuate people, whether it’s from earthquakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes. And that’s the truth. And that will come out in the hearing.

Oh and a few minutes later she explained that “Now is not the time for finger-pointing.”

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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