September 18, 2005


Political clout could steer relief (Andrea Stone, 9/19/05, USA TODAY)

New Orleans' broken levees and mass evacuation have focused most attention on Louisiana. But Mississippi may be in a better position to collect federal dollars from the Republican-controlled White House and Congress once the media spotlight dims. Consider:

•Mississippi's senior senator, Republican Thad Cochran, chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, which gives out federal funding. Louisiana's senior senator, Democrat Mary Landrieu, attacked the administration's response.

•Mississippi's junior senator is former majority leader Trent Lott, a Republican who chairs the rules committee that decides which bills get voted on. Louisiana Republican David Vitter, a freshman elected last year, gave the federal government a grade of "F" for its handling of the disaster. When federal officials wanted to send the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort to Louisiana, Lott intervened to reroute the ship to his hometown of Pascagoula.

•Haley Barbour was a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and one of the most well-connected lobbyists in Washington when he was elected governor of Mississippi in 2004. He has defended the federal response. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, initially criticized Washington's handling of relief efforts and refused to hand over control of the Louisiana National Guard to the federal government.

Barbour's comments were meant "to gain a little more credibility and gratitude of the Republicans running Congress when they start putting the money together," American Enterprise Institute congressional expert Norm Ornstein said.

Some Republicans have blamed Blanco and other local officials for initial missteps. "It's not Louisiana vs. Mississippi," said Kevin Madden, spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas. "It's what went right in Mississippi in planning and recovery vs. what went wrong in Louisiana."

The biggest thing that went right in Mississippi was the gubernatorial election, as was the biggest thing that went wrong in LA.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 18, 2005 11:43 PM

Turing and Church, you really want people to read this post, don't you?

As you noted elsewhere, that's the differenc between New York City / Chicago and Lousianna and New Orleans: while none of those cities will vote out corruption, the former will at least vote out incompetence.

P.S. Cycle break.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 19, 2005 1:28 PM