Unlike three years ago, the good folks of New Orleans are busily preparing for a hurricane days before it is scheduled to arrive.
This includes massive evacuations transpiring even though the storm is not supposed to hit until Monday.
Assuming these preparations are successful, and Gustav powers the same punch as Katrina without causing the same devastation to life and property, will the White House get media's praise?
Consider what the New York Times reported Saturday (emphasis added):
Hurricane Gustav surged to Category Three with winds of 120 miles per hour Saturday morning as it moved over the Caribbean and aimed toward the Gulf of Mexico, prompting thousands of residents of New Orleans to voluntarily leave the area without waiting for evacuation orders.
Officials here, exercising deliberate caution after the disaster of three years ago, could declare a mandatory evacuation of the city by early Sunday morning. Hotels were closing, and the sound of boards being hammered over windows could be heard. Meanwhile state police on Saturday morning reported moderately heavy traffic on a principal highway north, I-55, and a city-organized evacuation plan for the poor, elderly and sick — Hurricane Katrina’s principal victims — was in full swing. An estimated 30,000 could need assistance with evacuation.
Louisiana parishes along the Gulf Coast were also evacuating residents and ordering curfews to take effect tonight.
Now, let's be clear: every sane American (except those on the left hoping for the worst -- like Michael Moore!!!) hopes this storm either weakens or makes a big left turn sparing New Orleans this turmoil.
However, it is very clear that this city is doing a far better job of preparing for this hurricane than it did three years ago. If levees rebuilt and shored up with federal funds hold this time, and New Orleans is spared a similar castrophe as what occurred in 2005, will media give any credit to the White House?
After all, three years ago, the entire devastation was blamed squarely on the Bush adminstration. We here at NewsBusters published story after story concerning the absolutely abysmal coverage of this natural disaster.
In fact, many have made the case that the atrocious coverage of this event was what effectively destroyed the Bush presidency making him a lame duck only nine months into his second term.
Will press members in the coming days as Gustav approaches point out how much better the advanced preparations and evacuations are going now as compared to three years ago? Will they make clear that these are counter to decisions made at the local level in 2005, and that such preparation then might have signficantly diminished the loss of life and property?
And, if they choose to credit Mayor Ray Nagin for what he's doing today to protect his city and residents, will they point out that if he had done the same three years ago New Orleans might have fared much better when Katrina hit?
Or, will Nagin get all the credit if Gustav doesn't destroy New Orleans, with Bush still remaining responsible for Katrina doing so in 2005?
As an interesting sidebar, the good folks at "Morning Joe" had a discussion either Thursday or Friday about Jeb and George W. Bush. The long and the short of it was how much better and smarter a politician Jeb was as compared to his brother, and that if things had gone differently in the '90s, Jeb would have run for president in 2000.
Also addressed was that if the Bush name was better today, Jeb would have run for president this year easily beating McCain and likely a shoo-in to trounce Obama.
As it pertains to this issue, the panel discussed just how much better Florida under Jeb fared during the many strong hurricanes that pummeled the state in 2004. By contrast, New Orleans did very poorly in 2005 under -- wait for it! -- George W. Bush.
Sadly, no one on the panel chose to address the obvious: George W. Bush wasn't governor of Louisiana in 2005, and that Florida does so well during hurricanes because of the efforts by state and local officials.
It seems a metaphysical certitude this will mysteriously become apparent to all if New Orleans fares better this time.