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Analysis: Biden’s political nightmare suddenly feels like 2005 again

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A monster hurricane is beating New Orleans. Americans mourn the deaths from American fighting in a post-9/11 war. And a president is harassed.
Sixteen years ago was a painful period in which the insurgents became the Iraq war against the United States and Hurricane Katrina left people on the streets of the Big Easy, becoming a metaphor for the free-falling U.S. presidency. President George W. Bush never regained his political authority or influence after being one of those attending those 2005 twin disasters: a now-famous photo of him looking out of the Air Force One window at the devastation of the Gulf Coast storm appeared to symbolize the detachment of his administration from the crisis.

“Is Katrina this president ____?” Belt experts are now mocked during every political crisis.

Successful presidents bounce back after political cataclysms. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama overcame the crises and won the second term. Jimmy Carter and Donald Trump were defined by their failures and fell short. (Bush was lucky that his horrible patch came after winning a second term). So the next few weeks will be crucial to President Joe Biden’s position.

The death of 13 U.S. service personnel along with at least 170 more people in last week’s suicide bombing in Kabul was a humanitarian tragedy and a political nightmare for the president. His hopes of being able to boast of ending America’s longest war are now tainted by the wrong execution of the retreat. While his proponents claim Biden is unfairly guilty of two decades of war mistakes, he did add another layer of failure.

Hopefully, Hurricane Ida will cause less destruction than Katrina, which hit exactly 16 years ago Sunday. But even if it blows and the United States leaves Kabul before Tuesday’s deadline without further massacres, Biden will remain in the eye of a political storm. A new scientific model suggests another 100,000 killed by Covid-19 in December. It’s not Biden’s fault, so many Republican voters refused to get vaccinated. But he is the president and was elected to end the pandemic. The July Fourth statement that Covid-19’s worst nightmare had already ended seems as insulting as its promise that there would be a safe and deliberate withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Escaping Ida

A group of people walk through the French district during Hurricane Ida on August 29, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Looking back CNN reports to Hurricane Katrina of exactly 16 years ago, the headlines are perfectly appropriate today: “New Orleans hugs for hurricane monster;” “New Orleans is demanding the last destinations to leave; there are still no forced evictions.” writes Meanwhile Shelby Rose of Jackson, Mississippi, where he evacuated after leaving New Orleans, where he goes to Tulane Law School, ahead of Hurricane Ida.
Ida crashed into southern Louisiana this weekend with winds of 150 mph, bringing back memories of the fear and last-minute panic of the previous storm. New Orleans airport has on the ground all flights. Power is all over the city. And the city police they are reminding everyone that its capacity to respond to emergencies will be “extremely limited during this meteorological event.”

In New Orleans, the weather began to worsen Sunday afternoon. Blaze D’Amico, a student at Tulane Law School, saw a wall of her house begin to break with strong winds in the suburb of Metairie. “Someone looked at one of the walls, where a massive crack had formed in the rock. Within minutes, the fissure spread in several directions and the entire wall began to protect itself,” he said. “Now the wind whistles through the holes in the wall.”

A wall cracked by strong winds in Metairie, Louisiana.

As the storm moves toward the Great Easy, Katrina’s memory is sharp. But not everyone takes it so seriously. Stuart Cranner, a native of New Orleans, was evacuated during Katrina, but this time decided to wait for Ida at her family home in Mandeville, Louisiana. Ida “feels safer because the city seems more prepared,” Cranner said in a text message to Meanwhile, adding that she had decided to stay there to take care of the house.

It is true that since Katrina, the water control systems and the dike in New Orleans, have improved, the pumps have improved. with backup generators and gates have been added to key canals to help prevent water from entering the city during storm surges. Ida’s storm surge is also expected to be smaller than Katrina’s, estimated at 12-16 feet according to the National Hurricane Center, compared to the 24-28 feet of 2005.

But Ida is still arguably dangerous, and it comes at a time when Louisiana’s health care system is already in crisis, with hospitals overflowing with hundreds of Covid-19 patients. Uncertainty about future damage is what drove many people, myself included, out of the city; we don’t know to what extent it will, but no one wants to risk repeating it in 2005.

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