In New Orleans today for the first visit of his presidency, President Obama took a more measured tone with regard to the Bush Administration's handling of the rebuilding efforts in the gulf region in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
In January 2007, during a hearing on the response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental affairs, then Senator Obama harshly criticized the Bush administration's efforts saying, "There is not a sense of urgency out of this White House and this administration." Later that year, during a visit to New Orleans, then candidate Obama was asked if elected President what he would do for the city, Obama answered he hoped that the Bush administration would have dealt with many of the city's major concerns by January 2009, yet added "but I'm not optimistic."
Even as recently as this past February, in a statement on extending the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding, President Obama seemed to continue his criticism of the Bush administration's efforts towards the region, "The residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast who are helping rebuild are heroes who believe in their communities and they are succeeding despite the fact that they have not always received the support they deserve from the federal government."
He reiterated this statement in his opening remarks during today's town hall but then softened his tone and declined to directly criticize his predecessor, when asked why the region still had to fight for money from the federal government from this administration to rebuild the region, "I know since a lot of these problems have been going on since Katrina happened, people understandably feel impatient. On the other hand, these things were not all going to be fixed tomorrow."
The Obama administration is quick to tout their ability to get through bureaucratic hurdles in just nine months, which they say has resulted in getting more than 1 billion dollars in federal funds to the gulf region that had previously been stuck in red tape.