I took a jog around presidential candidate websites to see how they were responding publicly to the public’s dismay/astonishment over what happened 2 years ago and what hasn’t happened (in terms of Gulf Coast relief and recovery) since. (the photo above was taken not long after the levees breached in New Orleans and people were drowning).

The re-building of New Orleans and the Gulf region could have been a boon to the U.S. economy with one of the biggest public works projects in American history. New homes could have been built and bought at a time when the real estate industry needs help. New Orleans could have been a shining example of American industy, ingenuity and science as a sparkling clean, safe and energy-efficient metropolis rose from Katrina’s ashes.

That hasn’t happened. Yet. Instead, President Bush proposes $200 billion for Iraq spending while local police are running low on ammunition to protect folks here at home. Just so we’re clear — at a time when we are threatened by terrorists, police around the country are conserving bullets because the war in Iraq is soaking up all the ammo. We’re killing that many “terrorists” over there. Feel safer?

But I digress. I primarily looked at frontrunners on either party.

John Edwards has the biggest presence on Katrina on his site and he’s got the second best plan, IMHO. He might have gone with an image featuring Edwards and Katrina survivors on the homepage rather than a big image of the hateful storm itself, though. Weird choice.

Barack Obama and Bill Richardson also have prime placement to reflect the importance of the issue on their home pages. Hillary Clinton’s site features the 10 top ten reasons we should vote for her and give her money. Much smaller right below a giant picture of her smiling on a day when some people aren’tthere’s a tiny image and link to what’s actually a pretty good plan. Um, yeah, ok.

All the frontrunners have good-sounding thought-out plans though Richardson’s is perhaps the weakest. Obama has the most detailed and keepin’-it-realest best plan though it’s presented as a PDF with a brief summary that looks like everyone else’s. Doh!

When reviewing the Republican candidate sites, I admit I was shocked.

Rudy Giuliani is running on his dubious record on 9/11 and whom associates himself with security and crisis response. Yet there is only a headline link for a terse Katrina statement. Rudy Giuliani’s press release on his Wisconsin co-chairs is about twice the length of his statement on Katrina. He offers no plan to help those impacted by Katrina nor does Mitt Romney who has a similar shortish statement that didn’t even make it to his homepage. But never fear: “Create Your Own Ad” did! Whee!

Fred Thompson? I could find no mention of Katrina on his homepage despite numerous feature spots to include something. Anything. The newsroom also yielded nada at the time I am writing this.

Mike Huckabee? — the same sad 1 paragraph statement as the rest.

John McCain? Also, just a simple link on his site to a 3 paragraph (at least it’s a little longer than his rivals’ pitiful efforts) statement. And only McCain gets a bit more direct on the subject:

The failure of government’s response to Katrina is one example of why Americans have lost faith in our government.

Or have they just mostly lost faith in Republicans? I mean, no wonder Republicans are less than enthusiastic about this lineup. The candidates all do nothing but mouth empty, shuffling platitudes. You can almost see them mumbling these statements while looking at their shoes. I’d like to save you some time and summarize what all 4 men who have statements say:

“I feel bad about what happened. It’s a messed up situation. we need to make sure this doesn’t happen again and as President, I would handle that kind of situation better in the future. America is Number 1.”

This isn’t about white or black – do they think that their supporters don’t really care that much about Katrina and what it says about our national disaster preparedness in a time of war??? Did some RNC memo get sent out that said, hey fellas, let’s just try and duck-n-cover, do a little soft-shoe maybe, til the anniversary is over and people forget about that whole mess? Most of the Republican candidates as far as I can tell aren’t visiting New Orleans or the Gulf this week in contrast to the Democratic candidates. Even Bush and Rove are doing the walk of shame back to the N’awlins they abandoned two years ago.

These are the men who wish to be president? Please. The GOP is no longer the party of national security and through its treatment of Katrina survivors, can’t claim to be the party of family values either…

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