I listened with great interest this week as minority community activists from New Orleans spent a full day insulting Congress, the Bush administration and FEMA over the slow response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The activists wanted to tell Congress firsthand that they blamed race and poverty on the slow response. And when handed ample evidence to the contrary, they ignored it. After all, truth wasn't their intent.
It was clearly the failure of the New Orleans city officials to organize the bus transportation to remove those without means to flee. That city administration is headed by a minority. But at the heart of the problem was the overwhelming fact that many New Orleans residents ignored the calls to evacuate because they felt - as did many of us - that the Hurricane Katrina would strike only a glancing blow on the city. But it's far easier to play the race card than to look in the mirror.
As a follow-up to their tirade, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said the federal government has failed to fulfill rebuilding promises since the hurricane and on that point, he's right. But as it pertains to some parts of that region, there remains disagreement on what should be rebuilt and what should be converted to some other use than residential property.
I could well be wrong, but the public and private support to help Katrina victims - from churches and organizations - has been tremendous. At some point, as time goes by, people begin to forget that the region remains a disaster. So those residents turn to the federal government for the money and resources to rebuild. It's a regional problem in search of a national answer.
As part of these Katrina hearings, Congress now wants to go back a few months and research documents on what was requested, when it was requested and what happened with that request. In other words, they seem more interested in dissecting the patient than finding a cure for the ailment. Just to give you a sense of the scope of the issue, a White House spokesman said they are currently sifting through 71 million e-mails and documents that the committee wants. Put that into your mind. 71 million e-mails!
Bureaucracy moves slowly and now you know why.