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Katrina Recovery: Dems' Wedge for Southern Votes

by Pete Ross

If we Dems ever want to see southern states colored blue on morning after election maps, the time to raise some serious hell about the botched Katrina "recovery" is now.

Consider the new Associated Press poll conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs 2/13-16 (toplines here) on Katrina recovery: For openers, Americans would prefer that Katrina recovery be "a higher priority for government spending" than the war in Iraq by a margin of 64 to 31 percent. Asked "How confident are you that the money appropriated for recovery from Katrina is being spent wisely," 37 percent responded "not too confident" and another 29 percent chose "not confident at all."

Talk about national security, only 15 percent of respondents said they were "very confident" about the government's ability to handle major disasters in the future, with 28 percent "not too confident" and 24 percent "not at all confident." And talk about 'Portgate' as a national security issue, consider that the Port of South Louisiana (New Orleans) handles more tonnage than New York City -- only 3 ports in the world handle more.

A reporter friend, himself a lifelong southerner, who recently visited the Gulf rim, was stunned by the number of "destitute people" he saw who were still struggling to survive along the highways of southern Mississippi and Louisiana. The people who live on the Gulf Coast and those who have evacuated are pissed in a huge way, and they will most assuredly take their discontent to the polls, wherever they are, on election day. What we don't want is them -- and other southerners -- saying they have not been impressed with the Democrats' response to the Administration's disasterous handling of the recovery effort. It would serve the DCCC and DNC well to crank up the volume on this issue to the point where it is crystal clear which party is ready to provide energetic leadership to restore and revitalize Gulf communities.