NEW ORLEANS--Sorry, can't be sure that's the planet he's living on, but this intelligent, well-informed man surely can't be living on this orb. Otherwise, he wouldn't have been able to start off his speech at Xavier University Sunday afternoon with this reprise of his town-hall remarks here last October:
"It was a natural disaster but also a manmade catastrophe; a shameful breakdown in government that left countless men, women, and children abandoned and alone."
Note that the "manmade catastrophe" and "breakdown" are linked only to the response to the flooding of New Orleans, not the cause, as if this intelligent, well-informed man is unaware that two separate, independent forensic engineering investigations of the disaster, conducted over a period of a year or more, agreed on this conclusion (in the words of UC Berkeley's ILIT report): the flooding of New Orleans was "the greatest man-made engineering catastrophe since Chernobyl".
Chernobyl. That word would surely have gotten this intelligent, well-informed man's attention, had he only been residing on Earth these last few years.
But the remarks, tapped out on the auto-sinceratron that Presidents now routinely use for such occasion, went on:
"I saw the sense of purpose people felt after the storm". The "storm" ravaged the Mississippi Gulf Coast and south Louisiana. As for New Orleans, Prof. Ray Seed of UC Berkeley says that, had the "hurricane protection system" built with federal dollars by a federal agency over four and a half decades (and never completed) been done properly, all the city would have suffered during Katrina would have been "wet ankles".
Wet ankles. Like Chernobyl, not that hard to remember, even for an intelligent, well-informed man with, as commenters here have reminded me for nearly two years, so much on his plate.
More from Planet Zarg?
"We're also working to restore protective wetlands and natural barriers that were not only damaged by Katrina but had been rapidly disappearing for decades."
See, here on Earth, "working" would indicate the allocation of resources, the expenditure of serious funds, to deal with this slow-motion disaster. What the President requested in his 2011 budget for this work is $33 million, one-tenth of the money requested for ongoing cleanup of Great Lakes waters.
The President has left New Orleans now, once again, as last October, finding it inconvenient to spend more than a few hours here. Probably a good idea. He'll get a better night's sleep back on his home planet.
UPDATE TO COMMENTERS: Strangely enough, the Associated Press has the same interpretation of President Obama's semi-vague wording as I do. Right here:
Implicit in Obama's remarks was an indictment of sorts against former President George W. Bush's administration for its handling of the crisis. Obama called Katrina and its aftermath not just a natural disaster but "a manmade catastrophe - a shameful breakdown in government that left countless men, women and children abandoned and alone."