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Hullabaloo


Monday, September 05, 2005

 
Barbourous Jerk

Everyone has undoubtedly seen that dramatic and heartbreaking footage of Aaron Broussard on Meet the Press yesterday. But I wonder if most people saw Haley Barbour directly afterward. He completely ignored Broussard's emotional plea and implied in a particularly unctuous tone that something was wrong with Louisiana because everything was going very well in Mississippi:

MR. BROUSSARD: Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.

MR. RUSSERT: Just take a pause, Mr. President. While you gather yourself in your very emotional times, I understand, let me go to Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi.

Governor Barbour, can you bring our audience up to date on what is happening in your state, how many deaths have you experienced and what do you see playing out over the next couple days?

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR, (R-MS): Well, we were ground zero of the worst natural disaster ever to hit the United States. And it's not just a calamity on our Gulf Coast, which is decimated, I mean, destroyed, all the infrastructure overwhelmed. We have damage 150 miles inland. We have 100 miles inland, 12 deaths from winds over 110 miles an hour.

Saturday night before this storm hit, the head of the National Hurricane Center called me and said, "Governor, this is going to be like Camille." I said, "Well, start telling people it's going to be like Camille," because Camille is the benchmark for how bad--it's the worst hurricane that ever hit America, it happened to hit Pass Christian, Mississippi. Well, Tim, Katrina was worse than Camille. It was worse than Camille in size. It was worse than Camille in damage. And so we've had a terrible, grievous blow struck us.

But my experience is very different from Louisiana, apparently. I don't know anything about Louisiana. Over here, we had the Coast Guard in Monday night. They took 1,700 people off the roofs of houses with guys hanging off of helicopters to get them. They sent us a million meals last night because we'd eaten everything through. Everything hasn't been perfect here, by any stretch of the imagination, Tim. But the federal government has been good partners to us. They've tried hard. Our people have tried hard. Firemen and policemen and emergency medical people, National Guard, highway patrolmen working virtually around the clock, sleeping in their cars when they could sleep. And we've made progress every day.


So, basically he said that Mississippi was getting the help it needed early on. I wonder if Mississippians agree with that?

Well, no, apparently not:

In a sign of the political pressure facing Bush, Mississippi Republican Sen. Trent Lott, a former Senate majority leader, said he has been battling the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its Mississippi counterpart for help for his state and urged Bush to cut red tape.

After a one-on-one meeting with Bush in Poplarville, Lott said: "I am demanding help for the people of Mississippi to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina."


Haley Barbour is hitching his wagon to Bush and it makes sense. He's really never been anything but a political hack. But if things aren't going as well in Mississippi as he says it is --- and I doubt it is --- then he's playing with fire. I'd put my money on Lott. I have a suspicion that he understands the zeitgeist a little bit better that Barbour does.

...there are critics, particularly Jackson residents who are desperate for gasoline, and country folk still forced to scrounge for food and clean water in a world without electricity. And, there are those who say Barbour may have been too soft on early evacuation decisions.


The gulf coast was devastated. And people there are feeling overlooked in the shadow of the horrors of New Orleans. It's going to take a long time to re-build and things will not go completely smoothly. If people get impatient with this endless happy talk coming out of Barbour and the rest of the Republican leadership, there could be hell to pay. They'd better hope that Bush can deliver.



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