View Full Version : Bush Bungled Katrina Crisis, Say Britons

09-10-2005, 10:45 PM
Bush bungled Katrina crisis, say Britons
Sarah Baxter, Washington and Tony Allen-Mills, New Orleans


AN overwhelming majority of Britons believe that President George W Bush has mismanaged the response to Hurricane Katrina, a Sunday Times poll has found.

Fully 86% of people said his handling of the crisis was “bad” or “very bad”, while 70% said he was a generally incompetent president.

By almost three to one, 63% to 23%, people think the response to the hurricane would have been speedier and more effective if most victims had been white and middle class. By 67% to 19% they think race and class divisions in America are as bad as ever.

The poll of a representative sample of 1,856 adults, carried out on September 8-9 by YouGov, the online pollsters, is the first major test of UK public opinion on the crisis.

The findings do not appear to have been driven by hostility to America over Iraq. Fewer than half, 48%, thought the failings in Louisiana and Mississippi were because money and manpower had been diverted to Iraq.

The poll dismisses the proposition that people in affected areas had only themselves to blame for their problems because of their failure to heed the warnings to evacuate, and because of the looting and lawlessness that followed the hurricane. By two to one, 53% to 29%, this is rejected.

The poll uncovers deep hostility to Bush; 57% agree and 23% disagree that he is “one of the worst presidents America has ever had”. By 66% to 18% they think he is generally “not trustworthy”, and by 68% to 21% that he is “not really concerned about the fate of ordinary people”.

The disaster has also hit America’s reputation more generally. By 63% to 20%, people said the Katrina aftermath and the Iraq violence showed America is “losing the ability to organise and run things”.

Asked whether they had given money to help the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, 70% said they had and 30% that they had not. Asked whether they had given or would give to the victims of the hurricane, 31% said yes and 69% no.

The findings coincided with a US survey showing that 55% of Americans have a deep feeling of shame about the handling of the hurricane’s aftermath.

Americans believe by two to one that the government should have been better prepared. One in three says it would have responded faster if most victims had not been black and poor.

The mounting criticism has prompted supporters of Bush — whose approval rating fell to a record low of 39% in another poll yesterday — to try to shift the blame to Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans.

Grover Norquist, a prominent conservative activist, blamed the chaos in Louisiana on “looting in a Democratic city run by a Democratic mayor and Democratic governor”.

Nagin, who has condemned with four-letter words the Bush government’s lack of help, failed to follow his own emergency plan, critics said.

A spokesman for Tom DeLay, the Republican leader of the House of Representatives, said: “There is an understanding on Capitol Hill that Mississippi, which took the brunt of this, had a much better response than Louisiana.”

Nagin responded furiously to the attacks. “To those who would criticise, where the hell were you?” he said.

Mary Landrieu, a Democrat senator, accused the government of “staggering incompetence”. She said the administration had gambled with the safety of New Orleans by ignoring warnings of the impact of a severe storm. “Washington rolled the dice and Louisiana lost.”

Bush is to fly back to the stricken Gulf coast today in the hope of restoring confidence. New Orleans leaders hope to reopen the French Quarter within 90 days and hold the traditional mardi gras parade on February 28.

John Prescott was criticised yesterday for linking the disaster with America’s record on climate change. In a speech in Berlin, the deputy prime minister said he believed global warming was to blame for rising sea levels and increased storm activity and criticised the US for failing to sign up to the Kyoto protocol, which aims to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Patrick Mercer, Conservative homeland security spokesman, said: “I hope Mr Prescott hasn’t forgotten the full depth of the emergency that has overwhelmed America. This does strike me as being needlessly opportunistic, to say these things at this time.”

Gordon Brown yesterday called on the oil-producing countries to increase output to bring down prices.

09-11-2005, 12:20 AM
Why can't we have more citizens like that?