The Austin Chronicle

Gustav Cannot Become a Photo Op

By Richard Whittaker, September 1, 2008, 1:57am, Newsdesk

With the confirmation that George Bush will be in Austin on Monday to visit the Emergency Operations Center in advance of Hurricane Gustav making landfall, it seems an appropriate moment to make something clear to the administration.

Gustav is not a do-over for Katrina.

If the administration does its job this time, that just means it's done its job, nothing more. But let's be kind. Let's ignore for a moment that changes to federal regulations since Katrina actually make rebuilding after a disaster more expensive for states.

Let's also ignore the conservative Republican equation that federal funding equals stealth pork (Were the Lake Pontchartrain levees that failed during Katrina pork? Are the new levees, some stuffed with newspapers, that Gov. Bobby Jindal and professional risk managers agree are nowhere near where they need to be structurally, pork? How about the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, or any of the other 75,000 bridges around the US gauged "structurally deficient" by the federal government after decades of under-investment. Pork?)

Let's also forget the fact that, due to all the Louisiana National Guard's UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters being Iraq, they're having to borrow aircraft from other states.

Instead, let's just remember what conservative darling Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina said when he visited Austin in January. "Katrina did not unearth poverty but something more unsettling, particularly as a conservative, and that's dependency."

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