No commentary, just the question and answers related to Katrina, draw your own conclusions in the comments and I’ll respond.
Quotes from Press Conference of the President
Q And I’m not trying to play “gotcha,” but I wonder, when you look back over the long arc of your presidency, do you think, in retrospect, that you have made any mistakes? And if so, what is the single biggest mistake that you may have made?
THE PRESIDENT: …I’ve thought long and hard about Katrina — you know, could I have done something differently, like land Air Force One either in New Orleans or Baton Rouge. The problem with that and — is that law enforcement would have been pulled away from the mission. And then your questions, I suspect, would have been, how could you possibly have flown Air Force One into Baton Rouge, and police officers that were needed to expedite traffic out of New Orleans were taken off the task to look after you? …
Q …Mr. President, on New Orleans, you basically talked about a moment ago about the photo opportunity. But let’s talk about what you could have done to change the situation for the city of New Orleans to be further along in reconstruction than where it is now. And also, when you came — or began to run for the Oval Office about nine years ago or so, the James Byrd dragging death was residue on your campaign. And now at this time, 2009, we have the first black President. Could you tell us what you have seen on the issues of race, as you see it from the Oval Office?
THE PRESIDENT: Sure, thanks. First of all, we did get the $121 billion, more or less, passed, and it’s now being spent. Secondly, the school system is improving dramatically. Thirdly, people are beginning to move back into homes. This storm was a devastating storm, April, that required a lot of energy, a lot of focus and a lot of resources to get New Orleans up and running.
And has the reconstruction been perfect? No. Have things happened fairly quickly? Absolutely. And is there more to be done? You bet there is.
Q What more needs to be done?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, more people need to get in their houses. More people need to have their own home there. But the systems are in place to continue the reconstruction of New Orleans.
People said, well, the federal response was slow. Don’t tell me the federal response was slow when there was 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed. I remember going to see those helicopter drivers, Coast Guard drivers, to thank them for their courageous efforts to rescue people off roofs. Thirty thousand people were pulled off roofs right after the storm moved through. It’s a pretty quick response.
Could things have been done better? Absolutely. Absolutely. But when I hear people say, the federal response was slow, then what are they going to say to those chopper drivers, or the 30,000 that got pulled off the roofs?
The other part of the — look, I was affected by the TV after the elections — when I saw people saying, I never thought I would see the day that a black person would be elected President, and a lot of the people had tears streaming down their cheeks when they said it. And so I am — I am — consider myself fortunate to have a front-row seat on what is going to be an historic moment for the country. President-Elect Obama’s election does speak volumes about how far this country has come when it comes to racial relations. But there’s still work to do. There’s always going to be work to do to deal with people’s hearts.
And so I’m looking forward to it, really am. I think it’s going to be — it’s going to be an amazing — amazing moment.