According to a Time poll conducted shortly after Katrina, 54 percent of Democrats believe race and income level played a part in the hurricane response, compared to 17 percent of Republicans. The government's sluggish response to Katrina hurt Bush's standing with blacks. Now only 2 percent of blacks approve of the president's performance.
"George Bush doesn't care about black people," said rapper Kanye West during a nationally televised Hurricane Katrina relief effort.
CNN's Jack Cafferty also whipped out the race card, "Despite the many angles of this tragedy, and Lord knows there've been a lot of 'em in New Orleans, there is a great big elephant in the living room that the media seems content to ignore -- that would be, until now. . . . [W]e in the media are ignoring the fact that almost all of the victims in New Orleans are black and poor." CNN's Wolf Blitzer concurred," . . . [S]o many of these people, almost all of them that we see, are so poor and they are so black . . . "
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, whose befuddled response to Katrina likely cost lives, said, "The more I think about it, definitely race played into this." Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan went even further. He speculated that someone intentionally blew up the levee to flood the black area: "I heard from a reliable source who saw a 25-foot-deep crater under the levee breach. It may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry."
But what about the facts? A just-released report by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals found whites in New Orleans died at a higher rate than minorities. According to the 2000 census, whites make up 28 percent of the city's population, but the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals indicates that whites constitute 36.6 percent of the storm's fatalities in the city. Yet blacks make up 67.25 percent of the population and 59.1 percent of the deceased. Again, whites in New Orleans died at a higher rate than minorities.
Orleans Parish, which sustained substantial damage, was 28 percent white and 67 percent black. But the devastation included neighboring parishes and Mississippi counties that were overwhelmingly white. Those hardest hit -- besides Orleans Parish -- were St. Bernard Parish (88 percent white, 8 percent black), Jefferson Parish (70 percent white, 23 percent black), Plaquemines Parish (70 percent white, 23 percent black), St. Tammany Parish (87 percent white, 10 percent black), Hancock County (90 percent white, 7 percent black), Harrison County (73 percent white, 21 percent black), and Jackson County (75 percent white, 21 percent black).
Good news, Democrats. We've established that A) the Iraqis appear optimistic, B) our economy remains strong (even if you refuse to give a little credit to Bush's tax cuts), and C) our president is not a racist. Happy New Year.