NYT: New Orleans – Just Another Reason to Bash Bush

The Old Grey Lady is at it again. In a world where anything and everything she disagrees with is Bush’s fault, the most prominent newspaper in the United States takes aim at the commander in chief and blames him for the impending death of New Orleans.

The editorial for this eleventh day of December tries to disguise itself as a statement of concern over the fate of the Big Easy. Even the headline, “Death of an American City” attempts to reach out and grab at the heart of the reader, immediately setting him off into an emotional state whereby no logic can survive. Yet this opinion piece isn’t about saving New Orleans. It’s about hating President Bush and blaming him, not Louisiana government, for failing to lead.

We are about to lose New Orleans. Whether it is a conscious plan to let the city rot until no one is willing to move back or honest paralysis over difficult questions, the moment is upon us when a major American city will die, leaving nothing but a few shells for tourists to visit like a museum.

We said this wouldn’t happen. President Bush said it wouldn’t happen. He stood in Jackson Square and said, “There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans.” But it has been over three months since Hurricane Katrina struck and the city is in complete shambles.

At this moment the reconstruction is a rudderless ship. There is no effective leadership that we can identify. How many people could even name the president’s liaison for the reconstruction effort, Donald Powell? Lawmakers need to understand that for New Orleans the words “pending in Congress” are a death warrant requiring no signature.

The rumbling from Washington that the proposed cost of better levees is too much has grown louder. Pretending we are going to do the necessary work eventually, while stalling until the next hurricane season is upon us, is dishonest and cowardly. Unless some clear, quick commitments are made, the displaced will have no choice but to sink roots in the alien communities where they landed.

The real agenda for the New York Times is to press its anti-war passiveness by aligning the death of New Orleans with their perceived failure of the War in Iraq. By playing a game of ‘if onlys’, the Times position is this – if Bush wouldn’t have taken the U.S. to war with Iraq, New Orleans would be a glowing city on a hill in a bowl.

The price tag for protection against a Category 5 hurricane, which would involve not just stronger and higher levees but also new drainage canals and environmental restoration, would very likely run to well over $32 billion. That is a lot of money. But that starting point represents just 1.2 percent of this year’s estimated $2.6 trillion in federal spending, which actually overstates the case, since the cost would be spread over many years. And it is barely one-third the cost of the $95 billion in tax cuts passed just last week by the House of Representatives.

Total allocations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terror have topped $300 billion. All that money has been appropriated as the cost of protecting the nation from terrorist attacks. But what was the worst possible case we fought to prevent?

Losing a major American city.

Doesn’t it sound like the Times is trying to link New Orleans to the tragedy of 9/11? Yep, sure does.

“We’ll not just rebuild, we’ll build higher and better,” President Bush said that night in September. Our feeling, strongly, is that he was right and should keep to his word. We in New York remember well what it was like for the country to rally around our city in a desperate hour. New York survived and has flourished. New Orleans can too.

The New York Times thinks Bush doesn’t want to help New Orleans. If you didn’t know better they’d have you believe that Bush outright lied on the night he spoke to his fellow Americans, and that he really wants to do everything in his power to permanently drown the city and it’s inhabitants.

But they don’t stop there. The editorial goes on and puts the screws to America itself. The Times tries to impart a strange sort of guilt by association implication on the rest of us by saying, “Maybe America doesn’t want to rebuild New Orleans”. If that’s the case, the Times suggest that we all look New Orleans in the eye and tell her so. By using this tactic, The New York Times attempts to put Americans in the role of the cold hearted family member who quickly decides that it would be easiest to simply remove life support from their sibling in order to ease their suffering.

If the rest of the nation has decided it is too expensive to give the people of New Orleans a chance at renewal, we have to tell them so. We must tell them we spent our rainy-day fund on a costly stalemate in Iraq, that we gave it away in tax cuts for wealthy families and shareholders. We must tell them America is too broke and too weak to rebuild one of its great cities.

Our nation would then look like a feeble giant indeed. But whether we admit it or not, this is our choice to make. We decide whether New Orleans lives or dies.

So, there you have it America. Your friends at the New York Times say “go ahead, pull that plug and live with the fact that you and your nasty evil president killed the Big Easy!”

Could state and local government take the lion share of blame for lacking effective leadership in the three months that have passed since Hurricane Katrina? Absolutely, yet The Old Grey Lady decides instead to convict the president of murdering New Orleans, proving once more that its opinion makers are nothing more than Bush hating liberals. The New York Times should have done the right thing and reserved its criticism for those who deserve much more editorial real estate – Governor Kathleen Blanco, Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator David Vitter, and most importantly, Mayor Ray Nagin.

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