Bush Would Have Launched a Marshall Plan for New Orleans
[New York Magazine, 21 August 2006]
As told to Richard Morgan
BONUS: The Full Package
Without 9/11, it seems certain that the Bush administration would have been shaped by the domestic crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Rather than standing on the rubble at ground zero with his bullhorn, Bush would best be known for standing on some waterlogged roof in the Ninth Ward and setting up a Gulf Coast White House, some federal nerve center to rebuild the whole region, fix the crumbling Lego levees once and for all, and bring attention to infrastructure nationwide—schools, roads, power grids. Already there would have been the big Northeast blackout of 2003 and now we’d be really devoting ourselves to infrastructure in the face of the blackouts in Queens, in St. Louis, in California. New Orleans itself would be a monumental engineering feat, a Marshall Plan for the Gulf South. A lot more attention would be paid to wetlands, the way we lose two football fields of land a day. Bush would’ve gotten on the bullhorn in the Ninth Ward and had a moment like Kennedy’s moon speech, when he rallied America behind the civic mission of restoring our heritage and rebuilding our country—instead of watching it fall apart the way we’re doing now.
—Douglas Brinkley, historian and author of The Great Deluge
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