The hurricane of hatred that the left has unleashed at President Bush in the wake of Katrina has taken many voices, but the most telling might be Sidney Blumenthal’s. His latest effort demonstrates that even though Bush could have done little to mitigate the damage of the worst natural disaster in American history, this hurricane gives the left an opportunity to vent all their accumulated greivances over Bush’s environmental policies.
Blumenthal starts out by trying to lay blame for the hurricane at Bush’s feet, citing two examples of how Bush policies made the aftermath worse. First, he says, Bush cut funding for Army Corps of Engineers flood control efforts. According to Blumenthal, “A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken.”
This story, already widely discussed on the left, was addressed yesterday in a lengthy and well-sourced post on RedState.org:
Was it rational and defensible to shift funding from any source toward defense- and war-related activities in the aftermath of 9/11? Of course. Did that shift leave the levees unready to handle Katrina’s deadly burden? No. The levees were inherently unready: even at maximum proposed funding, their design was only for a Cat3 storm, not the Cat4/5 that Katrina was. It is true that in 2004, proposals were floated to upgrade to a Cat4/5-capable levee system; it is also true that even in an ideal situation, the studies — not the construction! — necessary to assess what that would entail would not be finished before 2008.
Blumenthal then argues that, “The Bush administration’s policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge.” But development was never a real threat to the wetlands — they were eroded away by a Mississippi River that was never allowed to flood. As MSNBC technology correspondent Bob Sullivan reported: