Words to accompany George Bush's self-congratulatory, rear-covering trip around Katrina land from Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post:
Last year, with most of the city still underwater, George W. Bush stood in Jackson Square and promised to rebuild New Orleans. He could have made good on that promise -- this is the United States of America, after all, and we undertake to rebuild entire countries (Afghanistan, Iraq) and even continents (Europe after World War II). The White House says it has earmarked $110 billion for Gulf Coast reconstruction, but less than half that money has been spent. Even assuming New Orleans gets its fair share, that's not enough to ever put this city back together again.
Call me cynical, but I didn't really expect this administration to come up with serious Marshall Plan money to rebuild a poor, mostly black city that was already in decline before Hurricane Katrina and the Army Corps of Engineers administered the coup de grace. (They still toss in a lot of French words down here.)
So, as everyone understands but no one wants to plainly acknowledge, New Orleans will become a smaller, whiter city. The Big Easy once was home to more than 600,000 people and had around 450,000 residents as Katrina approached. Now the population is under 200,000. A major city has become minor.
The Lower Ninth Ward -- poor, black, utterly devastated and cursed with precarious geography -- will never be the same. Some hard-hit white areas, such as parts of Lakeview, also may have to be written off. But for a variety of reasons, including the remorseless logic of the marketplace, black New Orleans will lose more.
The 31 percenters apparently think that's a good thing.