Thursday, October 25, 2007
Schwarzenegger: Bush learned lesson from Katrina
IRVINE, California (CNN) -- Governor Schwarzenegger believes President Bush learned a valuable lesson from Katrina, too.

"Believe me, I am the first one to complain if the federal government doesn't really play ball with us or if they are not good partners. I complain immediately," the governor told CNN.

"But in this particular case I can tell you I was really suprised -- pleasantly surprised -- by how quickly the president picked up the phone, called me in the middle of my first briefing that I had with the fire officials and said to me, 'Do you need me to come out there? Do you need help? Let me know what you need. I am ready for you. All my departments are ready for you to act immediately, just let me know.'"

And the governor rejects the idea that the California National Guard's duties in Iraq and along the US-Mexican border have undermined its response to the fires.

"It has absolutely nothing to do with that," Schwarzenegger told us. "We have trained the National Guard for these kind of natural disasters and there will be plenty of them available on an ongoing basis."

-- By John King, CNN Chief National Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 12:50 PM ET
  3 Comments
John,

Thank you for a positive upbeat report on government working as it should. This is a pleasant change from stories about bickering and finger pointing. I am always ready to criticize Bush, so I also need to be ready to give credit where it is due. Thank you Governor and Mr. President.

I hope it is emphasized in the news reports that the high winds kept the tanker planes on the ground in the early days of the fire. It was not government blundering.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 1:16 PM ET
It has been good to see government work for the people during this disaster. I do believe leaders at all levels learned from the mistakes of Katrina on some surface levels (quicker response, better facilities (that actually had electricity and hadn't been inundated by a hole in the roof), government leaders involved hands-on)). What happened in New Orleans happened because the levees breaking wasn't part of the preparedness plan for any leader. They weren't ready for such a catastrophe. And afterwards, I believe that centuries of racial issues and corruption played a part in the recovery efforts. In California, the level of wildfires wasn't a thought before it happened, either, but because of past mistakes, people knew that they had to help the citizens of those areas asap. Questions have run through my head, though, since all of this started (and I'll be shocked if you have guts enough to post these). Here goes... Had an impoverished area primarily populated by minorities that largely depended on governmental aid to survive been the greatest area burned out, would the federal and state response have been so quick? Had the evacuees been reported looting and raping in the shelters would the response be so warm and fuzzy to help those affected by this tragedy? And had the area affected been known for its corruption for centuries, would the response have been as quick or would it be almost non-existent out of fear that the same corruption would hinder efforts to help those in need? I will always believe the response to Katrina was racially motivated on some levels. I will always think that the innocent suffered for a few "bad eggs" throughout our history. And because the demographics were so different and our country is a far cry from being color blind or socioeconomic status blind, there is no way to ever compare CA to what happened in my home state. I am a white, Republican woman who was never so embarassed for her government and some of our citizens and how they treated the less fortunate of New Orleans as what I was after Katrina. And no amount of work in CA for primarily middle to upper class whites will ever correct those wrongs committed two years ago in New Orleans (and still being committed today). It's great that Californians are being helped. It's just a shame that all Americans still aren't two years after the fact. And no amount of anyone patting themselves on the backs saying look we finally got it right will ever make it right.
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 5:20 PM ET
To CNN and 360 blog readers,

The government didn't "learn" anything fom Katrina, because they already knew what problems existed in high risk areas like New Orleans, but didn't prioritize things in a common sense manner. Fixing the levies was never high on there things to do list.

The reason California turned out better [speaking as a 30 year California resident]is because California had already taken organizational and preventative measures, and then enacted them when they recognized tragedy was "about to" strike.

Aside from that, the new Governor didn't act like he couldn't be bothered around vacation time; he kept informed about the issue and then made [whoda thunk] informed decisions. The obvious advantage being Schwarzenegger is a republican governor requesting aid from an overly loyalist republican president.

Had Schwarzenegger been a democrat I doubt he would have gotten as concerned a response from our learless feeder.
Posted By James Foley Kamiah, Idaho : 5:47 PM ET
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