George Bush Still Don't Like Black People
On New Orleans, Not A Word From Bush; No Mention Of Hurricane Katrina Rebuilding Effort In State Of Union Address
(CBS/AP) New Orleans is still a mess and the pace of recovery across the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina's strike remains achingly slow after 17 months. But none of this captured President Bush's attention on the year's biggest night for showcasing policy priorities.
In the president's State of the Union speech last year, delivered just five months after the disaster, the devastation merited only 156 words out of more than 5,400.
On Tuesday night, the president spoke for almost exactly as long before a joint session of Congress. But Katrina received not a single mention.
"At this time I almost broke my TV, knocked it off the stand," Chris Davis, told CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian. Davis, a Vietnam veteran, is one of the displaced residents from New Orleans now living near Baton Rouge, La.
"People were already feeling forgotten. I think this may potentially reinforce that," Toni Bankston, a mental health caseworker, told CBS News.
Officials in Louisiana were also disappointed by the oversight.
"The governor is supremely disappointed," said a spokeswoman for Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco. "The president's speech was promoted as focusing on his domestic priorities, yet we see where hurricane recovery is on his list. It's not even on the radar."
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said, "With nearly 6,000 words about the nation's priorities, not one single word was devoted to the rebuilding and protection of affected areas of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. It was a glaring omission."
Republican Sen. David Vitter's criticism was more muted.
"I was disappointed somewhat," Vitter said, "but I didn't necessarily expect a significant mention primarily because the federal government has provided a great deal of funding and aid and because most of the hurdles we face are at the state level."
By contrast, in the days ahead of the president's address, Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia compared the U.S. money being spent on Iraqi reconstruction with the fraction committed to the Gulf Coast rebuilding. And, chosen to give the Democratic response to Mr. Bush on Tuesday, Webb brought up the continuing struggle of Katrina victims right away, listing "restoring the vitality of New Orleans" just behind education and health care among his party's most pressing priorities, according to the text of his speech distributed in advance.
Maybe Bush REALLY thinks New Orleans is getting along fine. Perhaps he should check the news for once in his sad little life:
In an exceedingly rare move for a public school system, hundreds of children seeking spots in the city's schools have been turned away -- "wait-listed" -- and told that the campuses have no room, school officials said Tuesday....
In November 2005, the state Legislature voted to take control of 107 New Orleans public schools performing below the state average. That legislation put those campuses under the control of the Recovery District, leaving just 16 of the city's highest-performing schools under the local School Board's control....
Flozell Daniels, who is married to Orleans Parish School Board member Heidi Daniels, recalled trying to enroll a cousin's fourth-grade child in a Recovery District school and being told of the wait list.
"I intellectually understand how difficult this is, but it is morally criminal and it is illegal to keep a child from getting an education in America," he said. "It's unconscionable."