The end of this week will mark 15 years after Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana (and almost that long since Hurricane Rita piled on). In a silver linings view, concerning the world of state and local politics it actually brought some benefits.
Politics in the near-epicenter, New Orleans, abruptly changed. After levees overtopped and broke, state and local officials, largely Democrats, tried to misplace primary blame for this upon the federal government, whether in the form of claiming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had fallen down on the job, to weaponizing the event as an indictment of the Republican Pres. George W. Bush Administration, to wild conspiracy theories that would not look out of place in today’s era, where the political left and Democrats bend over backwards to assert ludicrously that systemic racism in America exists, that deliberate destruction of levees had occurred to harm black folk.
In reality, although the federal government bore some fault for a flawed protection system and response, the main culprits were state and local government. A dysfunctional flood control system allowed cronyism to triumph over provision of adequate protection, while the indifference Democrat former Gov. Kathleen Blanco had shown in planning to deal with such a crisis turned into full-blown evasion of responsibility and failed leadership when it came.