My fellow Americans…
I come to you from the French Quarter in the historic city of New Orleans to give you an accounting of the trouble that has befallen this city and the wonderful people who call it home.
I’m here tonight…standing in the sewage strewn streets of the French Quarter because your government has let you down.
Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast section of the United States August 29 and she hit with a vengeance. Biloxi, Gulfport, New Orleans, have piles of sticks where-there-once-were homes…and it’s partially because your government let you down.
First…for my part…I apologize once again for any failing of the United States Federal Government in its response to hurricane Katrina.
Brownie…my friend who I put in charge of FEMA…after he served as that agency’s general counsel and–before that—as a horse show overseer…is gone. I fired his butt because that was the most visible way I could demonstrate to you that I meant business.
I COULD tell you he did a bad job…but I’d be lying. He did a good job…and that brings me to my next failing.
While Alabama and Mississippi were hard hit …they had something the people Louisiana didn’t. Leadership.
You see…I failed the people of Louisiana because I failed to recognize early-on that the good people of Louisiana had unknowingly hired morons to lead them.
When I went to business school they encouraged the big shots to delegate and I do that a lot. But then I’ve always surrounded myself with competent people…
What I DIDN’T count on was incompetent people being put in charge.
That’s where I screwed up.
From the corruption in the police department…when cops were running away…or… looting, or grieving; to the levee boards which spent the money they WERE to have used to buttress the levees…on —among other things—a two million dollar light up fountain…to the abject inert response by the mayor…who threw up his hands and said…those buses aren’t good enough and –WHERE’S the government? forgetting HE was the government…to the Governor weeping…gnashing her teeth…and wringing her hands, and incapable of making a decision…such that even good ol’ Brownie eventually had to call me and tell me it was time for the FEDS TO TAKE OVER.
We didn’t take over in Mississippi. We didn’t have to take over in Alabama.
I’ve been accused of not CARING about my African American brothers and sisters, for being too aloof, too distant…away on vacation. But if Texas was so far away to deal with this, how come my home state is hosting the majority of the evacuees?
Still –I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.
Now here’s what we’re going to do:
New Orleans is not just Louisiana’s city…it’s everyone’s city and everyone’s going to help spit-shine it.
Starting Monday…the hardest hit portions of New Orleans will be designated federal enterprise zones. We’ll cut the red tape…tell you what structural things you have to do to your buildings in the NEW New Orleans…but I’m going to do the best thing your government can do: get the heck out of the way and let the free market build a more secure New Orleans. The free market didn’t do such a bad job the first time.
Now …we’ve got some people living in some areas of New Orleans that are—at best—crazy. We’re going to have to give some of that land back to mother nature…build the levees higher…prepare for the next hurricane.
And here’s where you come in.
When the weather report for New Orleans says…that quote ‘a most powerful hurricane with unprecedented strength…rivaling the intensity of hurricane Camille of 1969.” And when the weather report for new Orleans says…. quote here again, “most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer…and at least one half of well constructed homes will have roof and wall failure.” Here’s what I want you to do…
Call the mayor…and say…I want to pull a Jabbar Gibson…I will be willing to drive one of those buses and take many people with me to safety.
If he says again…that those buses aren’t good enough for you…and that the unionized bus drivers won’t be there to take you…tell him you need the keys and you need to go now.
Now…here’s something else you need to know…the government can only do so much.
You’re going to have to take care of yourselves. All you have to do to have PROOF POSITIVE that the “entitlement society” doesn’t work is look at the response of your mayor and governor.
They had no clue. They thought the government would deliver them…they forgot they WERE the government.
Now…here’s what else you’ve got to do.
You’ve got to find or build yourself a new home. FEMA is working on your insurance stuff. You’ll get a home voucher. You know best how to spend the money.
If you want to live in the big easy…or go someplace else…don’t you think YOU’RE the best one to decide it?
Now some of the so-called black leaders say you should be given a lump sum payment like the victims of 9-11. I think that’s a great idea.
We’ll provide some oversight…but I’ll sign a bill doing that…right after those same…so called leaders support your right to dictate where part of your social security benefits should be invested.
Those same men also say the response to hurricane Katrina was because I don’t care for black people…or because I planted a “crater” in one of the levees in a diabolical plot to purposely flood black neighborhoods to make way for whitey.
If you believe that– then you deserve these people as your leaders.
To the rest of you…we’ve got some work to do.
Members of Congress, Chris Rock, and Michael Moore all have said that we’re spending too much money in Iraq saving those people and that the American people should sacrifice more for the war effort.
Securing a democratic government in the middle of Islamofacist regimes…seems like a good deal to me…so we’ll just ignore that idea. But I like the idea of shared sacrifice.
So…to that end …I am taking back the highway and appropriations bills…and spending that money all on rebuilding the gulf region.
That about does it.
No wait: One more thing.
When someone tells you to equip yourself with an emergency kit to last you and your family for three days? Believe it.
Thank you…God speed…and God Bless America.