President Obama has long been a boogeyman for Republicans, but the commander-in-chief is now being blamed for the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina—although it took place three years before he even took office.

A significant portion of Louisiana’s GOP said they believe the Obama administration is responsible for the government’s poor handling of the hurricane that battered the state in 2005 according to a recent survey from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling which was provided exclusively to Talking Points Memo.

Twenty-eight percent said they believe former Republican President George W. Bush, who occupied the White House at the time the storm ravaged the Gulf Coast, was responsible for the abysmal federal response. However, 29 percent held Obama, who was a freshmen U.S. senator at the time, accountable. And nearly half of the Bayou State’s GOP—44 percent—said they are unsure who is to blame.

The Bush administration was widely excoriated for its mishandling of the federal response to Katrina. The president was criticized for not immediately cutting short his vacation in Texas and returning to Washington when the storm made landfall, leading rapper Kanye West to make the notorious accusation, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.”

Michael Brown, then-director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was criticized for the agency’s dawdling response to the storm victims’ needs—relief aid was slow to arrive, and many of the evacuees found themselves holed up in the New Orleans Convention Center without food and water. Brown eventually admitted he did not become aware of the situation until after the press reported it.

Even in the face of Brown’s inaction, Bush offered an infamous endorsement of the FEMA chief. “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job,” Bush said—just two days before Brown resigned.


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO