08/28/2006 03:16 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Katrina: A Creeping Feeling of Deluge A Vu

Be sure and check out the Katrina anniversary takes of Sen. Russ Feingold, Harry Shearer, Susan Feeney, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Norm Ornstein, David Rees, Chris Mooney, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Andrei Cherny, Michael Shaw, Tom D'Antoni, Trey Ellis, Stacy Parker Aab, Linda Cronin-Gross, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Greg Saunders, Anya Kamenetz, Byron Williams, Kimberly Brooks, David Sirota, Carl Pope, Steven G. Brant, and Jeremy Pikser.

With the one-year anniversary of Katrina bearing down on us -- and Ernesto giving us a creeping feeling of deluge a vu -- I thought it would be useful to take a look back at how I saw the disaster and its tragic aftermath as it unfolded.

But this is not meant as a blast from the past; in this case, the past should indeed be prologue. As the stretch run to the midterm elections begins, Democrats need to make Iraq and Katrina -- the domestic companion piece to the administration's tragic mishandling of the war - their one-two 2006 campaign punch. As I wrote the week after Katrina hit: "The debacle in New Orleans contains all the elements necessary to show how Bush's misguided priorities -- especially his obsession with Iraq -- have left us far more vulnerable, unsafe, and insecure. It's the perfect opportunity to redefine national security in a way that would ironically - by putting America first -- most appeal to the red states."

Paging George Santayana!

The Flyover Presidency of George W. Bush 8.31.05
The president's 35-minute Air Force One flyover of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama was the perfect metaphor for his entire presidency: detached, disconnected, and disengaged. Preferring to take in America's suffering -- whether caused by the war in Iraq or Hurricane Katrina -- from a distance. In this case, 2,500 feet.

Are People Dying Over Here Because We're Fighting Them Over There?
Is the aftermath of Katrina part of the price we are paying for Iraq? To the growing list of collateral damage caused by the Iraq war and Bush's stunningly inept leadership, we can now add the city of New Orleans. The Bush administration will surely call into question the patriotism of anyone who dares note the obvious. But it's holding back from pointing out the consequences of catastrophic decisions that is unpatriotic.

Bill Clinton, Suck-Up-in-Chief
What the hell was Bill Clinton thinking, standing there next to President Bush and providing verbal cover for the administration's ludicrous claims that the problems plaguing New Orleans were unforeseeable? Chances to radically shift the national debate, alter the nation's perspective, and rearrange our priorities don't come along very often. President Bush squandered the teachable moment provided by 9/11, calling us not to national service but to shopping. Bill Clinton is now making it harder to use the current disaster as a wake-up call about the pent-up anger bubbling just beneath the surface of our country, about the Other America largely hidden from view, and about the urgent need to redefine national security.

President Bush Hits the Scene, Giving Hope to... Uh, Trent Lott
So President Bush has finally made it to the scene -- only four days after the storm. Unfortunately, there was no "bullhorn moment" a la his post-9/11 tour of Ground Zero -- no stirring rhetoric. Indeed, his staged briefing with the governors of Alabama and Mississippi did not inspire confidence or hope in anyone -- except maybe Trent Lott. And Lott's realtor. "The good news," said the president, "is that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubble of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's gong to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." Yes, he actually said that.

Responding to the Disaster in the Gulf: 3 Heroes Who Get It and a U.S. Senator Who Absolutely Doesn't 9.2.05
The words of Cummings, Cooper, and Zumbado should be required reading for all those keeping this disaster at arm's length -- starting with Bush and Landrieu. Because the urgency and intensity of our actions in this disaster will be proportionate to the depth and intensity of our feelings for those who are suffering.

Memo to the Media: Stop Enabling the White House Blame Game 9.5.05
The unquestioning regurgitation of administration spin through the use of anonymous sources is the fault line of modern American journalism. You'd think that after all we've seen -- from the horrific reporting on WMD to Judy Miller and Plamegate (to say nothing of all the endless navel-gazing media panel discussions analyzing the issue) -- these guys would finally get a clue and stop making the Journalism 101 mistake of granting anonymity to administration sources using them to smear their opponents. It's time for the media to get back to doing their job and stop being the principal weapon in Team Bush's damage control arsenal.

George Bush, David Caruso, and Katrina: Why Now Is Precisely the Time for Finger-Pointing 9.6.05
If we've learned anything from watching shows like CSI, Law & Order, and their endless progeny, it's that you can't let a crime scene grow cold. You've got to start collecting and analyzing the evidence while the DNA is still fresh and let David Caruso or Vincent D'Onofrio start sweating the perps while the passions are still running high. And make no mistake, what we saw go down -- and not go down -- in New Orleans was definitely a crime... a crime that is in many ways still in progress.

Will the Dems Ever Learn? "It's The National Security, Stupid" 9.7.05
Did the Dems learn nothing from 2004? Bush won because he had a double-digit lead on the question of who was going to keep us safer. Well, Katrina shoots that idea straight to hell, doesn't it? And Democrats should make clear once and for all just how illusory the president's purported strength, leadership, and steely-eyed resolve really are. The debacle in New Orleans contains all the elements necessary to show how Bush's misguided priorities -- especially his obsession with Iraq -- have left us far more vulnerable, unsafe, and insecure. So how come the Democrats are focusing on the estate tax instead of making the "We will protect you better" case?

Katrina Relief: Building on the Instinct for Giving 9.9.05
The private charitable response to Katrina has been extraordinary. This wellspring of altruism is one of the great untapped resources of our country -- squandered by a president who talks a lot about the fulfillment that comes from serving "something greater than ourselves" but has repeatedly blown the opportunity to call on the American people to commit themselves to a large, collective purpose. After 9/11 he called on us all to go to Disney World. What will he ask of us in the wake of Katrina -- to stock up on "Girls Gone Wild -- Mardi Gras" DVDs?

The GOP Finds the Silver Lining in Death and Destruction
The GOP message machine has now moved into the latest stage of its Katrina response: gleeful opportunism. First there was denial, then cluelessness, then head-ducking. But after staggering through those stages, Republicans have regained their footing and are now hard at work finding the silver lining within all the death and destruction -- ie a chance to trot out their pet shibboleths and push for their pet projects. Two weeks in, Katrina has turned into an-all-you-can-eat-right-wing-policy buffet.

Another Victim of Katrina: Media Coverage of Iraq 9.13.05
The monomaniacs in the media are at it again, focusing all their attention on a single story to the exclusion of all others. At least this time, the story the galloping herd has focused on is a mega-disaster and not Michael Jackson or Natalee Holloway or the Brad-Jen-Angelina triangle. But as monumental a story as Katrina is, why aren't the American media capable of covering two disasters at the same time? I'm talking, of course, about the other disaster facing our country, Iraq. You remember Iraq, don't you? I wouldn't blame you if it's slipped your mind, because it has certainly fallen off the media radar screen since Katrina came ashore -- devastating the Gulf Coast and blowing the devastation in the Persian Gulf off the front pages.

Karl Rove's Big Easy 9.15.05
Putting Karl Rove in charge of reconstruction efforts proves that despite the president's lofty rhetoric about "building a better New Orleans," his main concern is stanching his political bleeding.... So get ready for the New New Orleans -- Karl Rove's Big Easy -- featuring the Halliburton French Quarter, the ExxonMobil River (formerly the Mississippi), Lake MBNA (formerly Pontchartrain), and Eli Lilly music (formerly jazz).

Katrina Relief: It's Iraq Déjà vu All Over Again
Bush must have the worst memory since Guy Pearce in "Memento" because he's definitely been down this road before. The coming attractions for the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast play like a shot-by-shot remake of the mother of all disaster features, the reconstruction of Iraq.