I mean it. Can't they tear him down and put up an actual human being?
And while they're at it, how about a rehab on the director of FEMA Michael Brown?
Hastert, a United States Congressman, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, one of the most powerful men in the country, thinks that Katrina did a half-assed job on New Orleans and we should finish the city off for her.
This is from the Times-Picayune's amazing hurricane blog, which unfortunately but understandably wasn't put together with the idea that bloggers like me should have an easy time linking to entries, which is why I'm swiping the whole post. Scroll on down if you're familiar with Hastert's loutish suggestions that New Orleans isn't worth the trouble or the money:
House Speaker: Rebuilding N.O. doesn't make sense
Thursday, 2:55 p.m.
By Bill Walsh
WASHINGTON - House Speaker Dennis Hastert dropped a bombshell on flood-ravaged New Orleans on Thursday by suggesting that it isn’t sensible to rebuild the city.
"It doesn't make sense to me," Hastert told the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago in editions published today. "And it's a question that certainly we should ask."
Hastert's comments came as Congress cut short its summer recess and raced back to Washington to take up an emergency aid package expected to be $10 billion or more. Details of the legislation are still emerging, but it is expected to target critical items such as buses to evacuate the city, reinforcing existing flood protection and providing food and shelter for a growing population of refugees.
The Illinois Republican’s comments drew an immediate rebuke from Louisiana officials.
“That’s like saying we should shut down Los Angeles because it’s built in an earthquake zone,” former Sen. John Breaux, D-La., said. “Or like saying that after the Great Chicago fire of 1871, the U.S. government should have just abandoned the city.”
Hastert said that he supports an emergency bailout, but raised questions about a long-term rebuilding effort. As the most powerful voice in the Republican-controlled House, Hastert is in a position to block any legislation that he opposes.
"We help replace, we help relieve disaster," Hastert said. "But I think federal insurance and everything that goes along with it... we ought to take a second look at that."
The speaker’s comments were in stark contrast to those delivered by President Bush during an appearance this morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“I want the people of New Orleans to know that after rescuing them and stabilizing the situation, there will be plans in place to help this great city get back on its feet,” Bush said. “There is no doubt in my mind that New Orleans is going to rise up again as a great city.”
Insurance industry executives estimated that claims from the storm could range up to $19 billion. Rebuilding the city, which is more than 80 percent submerged, could cost tens of billions of dollars more, experts projected.
Hastert questioned the wisdom of rebuilding a city below sea level that will continue to be in the path of powerful hurricanes.
"You know we build Los Angeles and San Francisco on top of earthquake issures and they rebuild, too. Stubbornness," he said.
Hastert wasn't the only one questioning the rebuilding of New Orleans. The Waterbury, Conn., Republican-American newspaper wrote an editorial Wednesday entitled, "Is New Orleans worth reclaiming?"
"Americans' hearts go out to the people in Katrina's path," it said. "But if the people of New Orleans and other low-lying areas insist on living in harm's way, they ought to accept responsibility for what happens to them and their property."
I know there has been a lot of interesting, and angry, discussions of the roles of race and class in the coverage and reaction to Katrina's aftermath. It's almost certain that things would be a lot different if the scared and angry faces we keep seeing in New Orleans were predominantly white instead of mostly brown and black. And it's clear that particularly among conservative commentators there's a failure of imagination and empathy when the lives that have to be imagined and empathized with are the lives of poor people.
You know that Hastert was reacting to images of poor people's flooded neighborhoods when he started picturing bulldozers on the move---Think he's ever read the opening chapter of Seinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath?---and revulsion at the poverty he glimpsed moved him more than an innate pragmatism.
And based on his throwing Los Angeles and San Francisco into the discussion, cities that so far lately haven't needed massive amounts of federal aid, while forgetting to mention all those parts of Jeb Bush's Florida built where they make easy targets for the hurricane gods and which over the last dozen years or so have benefited from billions of dollars of other state's taxpayers' money with no one suggesting that the residents should pack up and move someplace where there is no pesky bad weather or inhospitable geography, it's not unreasonable or unfair to infer that Hastert resents the people of New Orleans for their habit of voting Democratic as much as their need for the Feds to open the national checkbook.
Lot of the talk of letting New Orleans die is wishful thinking.
But I suspect that as ugly and loathesome as Hastert's heart is, his thinking here is motivated more by the reflexive urge of Republicans to come to the aid of their Party's leader.
Save George Bush From Blame!
The horrors in New Orleans aren't a result of bad budgetmaking decisions, a stupid and failed war sucking up money, manpower, and machinery, an incompetent leadership up and down the line, and a President who is intellectually and emotionally not up to the job of guiding the nation through a time of crisis.
Nope. It's all the fault of those people's stubbornness and their refusal to accept responsibility.
That word, "responsibility," is the key to their thinking. Republicans only use it when they are talking about cutting federal help for poor people. They never use it when they are talking about Bush, or themselves.
The same craven desire to duck responsibility is behind FEMA's Brown's blaming the people who couldn't get out of New Orleans in time for their own troubles.
"I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave [he said judgmentally] but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans"...
"And to find people still there is just heart-wrenching to me because, you know, the mayor did everything he could to get them out of there.
"So, we've got to figure out some way to convince people that whenever warnings go out it's for their own good," Brown said. "Now, I don't want to second guess why they did that. My job now is to get relief to them."
His job now. No mention of his job before.
Brown is in a double-bind. He has to protect his boss Bush, and he needs to cover his own ass. Must be hard for him to stifle the urge to yell, "But they took away the money I needed to do the job!"
Fortunately, there are all those poor people and Democrats to blame.
Thanks to loyal reader Mac Magillicuddy for the link to the CNN story on Brown.
Related reading: Wesley Pruden thinks Hastert has given New Orleans the best news it's had all week:
A remark like that from a yankee politician is all the resurrection inspiration the Big Easy could ask for.
Sounds clever, but it's just part of another conservative's effort to get George Bush off the hook. See Pruden's column in the Jewish World News.
Related blogging: destor23 at the TPMCafe makes the case for rebuilding New Orleans right where it is.