Oil spill is only the latest crisis media have dubbed “Obama's Katrina”

Media figures have absurdly declared that the Gulf Coast oil spill is “Obama's Katrina” and have compared President Obama's response to the spill with President Bush's botched response to Hurricane Katrina. But this is just the latest in a long line of ridiculous comparisons in which media figures have referred to current events as “Obama's Katrina.”

A wide (and frequently bizarre) range of previous versions of “Obama's Katrina”

Gulf oil spill: “Obama's Katrina”

Numerous media figures dub Gulf oil spill “Obama's Katrina.” Media conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, the Fox Nation, the Drudge Report and The Washington Times pushed the absurd claim that a catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is “Obama's Katrina.” This claim is undermined by a number of facts, including that British Petroleum reportedly led the Obama administration to believe that the spill was much less severe than it actually was.

H1N1 flu: “Obama's Katrina”

Numerous media figures suggested the H1N1 flu was “Obama's Katrina.” On his November 3, 2009, radio show, Rush Limbaugh stated that the H1N1 vaccine shortage “ought to be Obama's Katrina,” but won't because “they have to protect the little man-child.” An August 25 op-ed by Martin Schram for the Scripps-Howard News Service was headlined, “Schram: Swine flu could be Obama's Katrina." Kansas City Star blogger Bill Dalton wrote an October 15, 2009, post under the headline, “H1N1: Obama's Katrina?” On the May 3, 2009 edition of Washington, D.C., television station WJLA's Inside Washington, host Gordon Peterson and Newsweek's Evan Thomas discussed whether the H1N1 flu was “Obama's Katrina. [accessed via Nexis]”

Fort Hood shootings: “Obama's Katrina”

Human Events' Wooley: “Fort Hood Could Be Obama's Katrina.” In a November 11, 2009, Human Events post titled “Fort Hood Could Be Obama's Katrina,” radio host Lynn Wooley wrote: “As Hurricane Katrina zeroed in on New Orleans in 2005, government at all levels was lethargic, seemed unprepared, and to some, even uncaring. In the wake of last week's massacre at Fort Hood, we are learning that the United States Army knew quite a bit about Major Nadal Malik Hasan -- but did not act on the information. Fort Hood could become Barack Obama's Katrina.” Wooley concluded: “The attitude of our Commander-in-Chief and others sworn to protect us is frighteningly reminiscent of what happened with Katrina. All we need from Obama is a hearty, 'Gen. Casey, you're doing a heck of a job.'”

Kentucky Ice storms: “Obama's Katrina”

Confederate Yankee: “Obama's 'Katrina on Ice'” A February 1 Confederate Yankee post titled “Obama's 'Katrina on Ice'” asserted:

More than 700,000 homes are still without power in Kentucky due to a massive ice storm that struck the state six days ago, forcing Gov. Steve Beshear to mobilize his entire state's Army and Air National Guard, a total of 4,600 men and the largest call-out in Kentucky's history.

FEMA has apparently been a no-show.

Haiti earthquake: “Obama's Katrina”

WSJ op-ed: “Haiti: Obama's Katrina.” In a January 25 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled “Hatiti: Obama's Katrina,” Soumitra R. Eachempati, Dean Lorich, and David Helfet wrote: “Four years ago the initial medical response to Hurricane Katrina was ill equipped, understaffed, poorly coordinated and delayed. Criticism of the paltry federal efforts was immediate and fierce. Unfortunately, the response to the latest international disaster in Haiti has been no better, compounding the catastrophe.”

Flopping Aces: "Does Obama Hate the People of Haiti?" In a January 17 post titled “Obama's Katrina,” Flopping Aces mentioned the criticisms of Bush for his Katrina response and concluded: “Does Obama hate the people of Haiti?”

GM bankruptcy: “Obama's Katrina”

Politico: GOP hopes GM bailout is “Obama's Hurricane Katrina” A June 8 Politico article's headline read: “Republicans hope General Motors is President Obama's Hurricane Katrina.”

Christmas Day Underwear Bomber: “Obama's Katrina”

Pajamas media: “Is the Undiebomber Obama's Katrina?” A December 29 Pajamas Media blog post titled “Is the Undiebomber Obama's Katrina?” asserted: “No doubt, Obama's poll numbers aren't going to be helped by this Jan-caused disaster. But I doubt if the fallout they'll face will be as severe as what the Bush administration went through due to Katrina, simply because the media will never gin up a news storm against the man they helped to elect that's anywhere near as powerful as the one they created to accompany Katrina.”

Housing policies in Chicago: “Obama's Katrina”

Kaus: “Obama's Katrina.” Slate blogger Mickey Kaus linked to a Boston Globe article about Obama's Chicago housing policies as a state senator, headlining his post “Obama's Katrina.” Kaus later updated, concluding: After all, Obama's career has been unusually limited for a presidential contender. Housing and “community development” has been a big part of it. If the result has been a disaster in which Obama's friends made lots of money while his poor constituents lived in dangerous squalor, that seems like a big warning sign, no? At least an expectations-lowerer! George W. Bush, in contrast, hadn't dedicated a large chunk of his life to FEMA."

Congressional Committees criticized Bush's response to Katrina

Bush admininstration “failed to lead an effective response” to Katrina. The Senate report concluded that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “failed to lead an effective federal response to Hurricane Katrina” and listed specific steps that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff failed to take both before and after the storm. The Special Report stated: “Secretary Chertoff failed to make ready the full range of federal assets pursuant to DHS's responsibilities under the National Response Plan (NRP)” and “failed to appoint a Principal Federal Official (PFO), the official charged with overseeing the federal response under the NRP, until 36 hours after landfall.”

Mike Brown was “hostile” to response plan. The Special Report further concluded that Michael Brown, the Principal Federal Officer that Chertoff eventually chose, “was hostile to the federal government's agreed-upon response plan and therefore was unlikely to perform effectively in accordance with its principles.”

Suffering “continued longer than it should have” due to “the failure of government at all levels.” The Senate report further stated that “the suffering that continued in the days and weeks after the storm passed did not happen in a vacuum; instead, it continued longer than it should have because of -- and was in some cases exacerbated by -- the failure of government at all levels to plan, prepare for, and respond aggressively to the storm. These failures were not just conspicuous; they were pervasive.”

Bush admininstration “not prepared to respond” to disaster. The House's Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina, which released its final report on February 15, 2006, found that “DHS was not prepared to respond to the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Katrina.” The report also found that “critical elements of the National Response Plan,” parts of which Chertoff was responsible for, “were executed late, ineffectively, or not at all,” and that "[f]ederal agencies, including DHS, had varying degrees of unfamiliarity with their roles and responsibilities under the National Response Plan and National Incident Management System." The report concluded:

We are left scratching our heads at the range of inefficiency and ineffectiveness that characterized government behavior right before and after this storm. But passivity did the most damage. The failure of initiative cost lives, prolonged suffering, and left all Americans justifiably concerned our government is no better prepared to protect its people than it was before 9/11, even if we are.