After Hurricane Katrina (2005) Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean stated Katrina showed that President George W. Bush was incompetent.  Dean also said, “Before Katrina, everyone, including America’s friends and enemies, believed if something awful happened in the world, you could call in the Americans and they’d fix it.”  But Bush’s response ruined that reputation.

International reliance on American relief efforts might have made Dean overconfident in America’s reputation abroad, but Americans have expectations foreign to many citizens of the world.  For example, Americans expect rapid responses to every calamity.  If there’s a power outage, chemical spill, disease outbreak, or natural disaster, Americans expect the government to manage the crisis just as instantaneously as it began.

Here’s how President George W. Bush recalled the beginning of Hurricane Katrina.  “The eye of the storm passed over Plaquemines Parish, at the far southeastern tip of the state, and plowed north across the Louisiana-Mississippi border, about forty miles east of New Orleans. ‘The worst weather in this system is indeed going to bypass downtown New Orleans and go to our east.’  NBC News’s Brian Williams reported…Several journalists on the scene said the city had ‘dodged a bullet’.  Governor Blanco confirmed that while some water had spilled over the tops of the levees, they had detected no breaches.  My staff and I went to bed thinking the levees had held … Early Tuesday morning, Day two of Katrina; I learned that the first reports were wrong.  The levees in New Orleans had been breached.  Water from Lake Pontchartrain began to pour into the city, filling the bowl.  An estimated 80 to 90 percent of residents had evacuated, but tens of thousands had not, including many of the poor and vulnerable.”

This was unprecedented.

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