Gustav Threatens Gulf, G.O.P. Convention Plans
By Kate Phillips
Tropical Storm Gustav is already wreaking havoc with the Republican convention plans next week, as it moves toward the Gulf Coast. And the storm’s gathering strength can only serve as a vivid reminder of the Bush administration’s much-derided, delayed response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, which slammed into New Orleans three years ago this Friday.
Tomorrow night, on the eve of the day that Katrina barreled into New Orleans, Senator Barack Obama is expected to recognize the anniversary in his acceptance speech at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, who was scheduled to speak at the Republican convention next Tuesday " the day the storm may hit land " has already declared a state of emergency. The predicted path of the storm at this point suggests it could make land fall in New Orleans, again.
Mr. Jindal, a rising star in the Republican party, said today that he would obviously skip the G.O.P. convention in St. Paul if the storm continues along a possible course toward his state. “My first responsibility is here in Louisiana,” Mr. Jindal said. “As long as the hurricane has Louisiana in its sights, this is where I’ll be. We’re still hopeful that the storm will miss us, but we’ve got to prepare as if it’s coming our way.”
On both sides of the political aisle, Katrina represented a significant downward turning point in public opinion of President Bush and his administration, which initially failed to assess the scope of the destruction.
Photographs of Mr. Bush peering out a window as he did a flyover of the region " his first response in leaving vacation " translated into images that made him appear remote and out of touch with the emotionally wrenching scenes on the ground, where people clung to their rooftops and bodies floated in the swollen waters. And of course, few can forget the line, “Heckuva Job, Brownie,” which Mr. Bush uttered to his FEMA chief, Michael Brown, on his first visit to the region.
With the storm looming, imagine what would have happened if either the Republicans or Democrats had decided, as some had wished, to hold their conventions this year in New Orleans?