Talking Points by Terry M. Neal
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Why, Oh Why?

[Here's what the New Orleans Times-Picayune had to say on that subject in a blistering editorial on Sunday:

"Despite the city's multiple points of entry, our nation's bureaucrats spent days after last week's hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city's stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

"Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

"Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning."]

Why did it take a president who embraces black kids in campaign photo ops as often as possible five days to get to the scene and embrace some of the mostly black suffering masses in New Orleans?

Why do some in the media seem more intent on focusing on the looting of a criminal few than on the more pervasive acts of human kindness of a people enduring the monumental stress of hunger, thirst, separation from family members, loss of homes, and fatigue in the blistering 90 degree heat of Louisiana and Mississippi?

Why have some of the president's supporters attempted to shift blame onto those who did not, or were not able to, evacuate before the storm?

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, why did you suggest that the city looked like "a place that could be bulldozed"? And why were you at a campaign fundraiser for a colleague when the House was voting on a $10.5 billion relief effort bill?

Mr. President, will you ever hold anyone accountable for performance deficiencies? Will you even bother to demand answers?

Would the federal response have taken so long if some similarly devastating disaster had struck, say, McLean, Va., or Scarsdale, N.Y.?

Would a president who proclaims himself to be a conservative sign a $286 billion highway bill packed with some 6,000 pork-barrel projects, many of them frivolous, while cutting a request from the Army Corps of Engineers to bolster hurricane protection in New Orleans from $105 million to $40 million? Wouldn't a president who calls himself a conservative, demand that taxpayer money be spent on priorities and try to do something to reform a budgeting system that rewards politicians for acting like pigs at a trough?

Final question:

Bush, the CEO president?

Postscript

While I never wrote this in my column, I suggested in my washingtonpost.com Live OnLine chat on Friday and in a Sunday appearance on the Chris Matthews Show on NBC that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had relocated to Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina. In fact, Nagin had relocated his office and his family to Baton Rouge, but he stayed behind in New Orleans. I apologize for the mistake.


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