If only George W. Bush had ordered home delivery of some pizzas during Katrina. On Meet the Press, David Gregory relayed how, before the tropical storm arrived on Saturday, Newark Mayor Cory Booker delivered a few pizzas to a shelter, then Gregory marveled at the “contrast...between President Bush regretting he had a flyover of the storm zone and here's Mayor Booker personally delivering pizzas.”
Gregory soon cued up far-left guest Michael Eric Dyson with “a larger point” of how “we're having a big debate over the budget in this town, the federal budget and deficit, and also the need for infrastructure improvements” and “the East coast is not prepared” for earthquakes nor “the kind of damage to our infrastructure that storms like this point up.” So, “what does it do to that debate?”
Dyson, naturally, agreed it shows the need for spending: “You've got to understand that investment in infrastructure is extremely important. It does have a redounding effect on the debate about whether we invest or whether we cut spending. If you look at infrastructure spending, you've got to be beef that up in order to be prepared.”
No other guests on the panel were allowed to address the premise, not that any would have disagreed given New York Times columnist David Brooks was the closest thing to a conservative in the group.
From the Sunday, August 28 Meet the Press on NBC:
DAVID GREGORY: Mayor, I want to ask you something I asked Governor Christie as well, which is an important bigger question out of all this, which is, how prepared are we as a country, not just the city of Newark or the state of New Jersey, but as a country, to deal with disasters of any magnitude, on a week when you had Hurricane Irene, on a week when you also had also an earthquake that is so rare along the East coast?
CORY BOOKER, MAYOR OF NEWARK: First of all, I'm proud of my President, I'm proud of my Governor for both jumping in and being very, very cautious by calling a state of emergency. It's much better to be prepared for an emergency and not have one than have an emergency and not be prepared. But to your point, I'm very concerned in our country that we have not been investing in infrastructure like we need to. We're seeing in the city of Newark lots of flooding and problems because our infrastructure is getting very aged and we haven't had the kind of investment or the resources to put the investment into it to keep our infrastructure strong and safe. And I know this is a problem from around the country. I've talked to many mayors. We need to begin to understand that investments in infrastructure is actually going to save us money over the long term, it's going to keep people safe, and it's actually going to help our economy as well.
KATTY KAY, BBC: ...But it's very different when you’ve three days warning, to something like happened in Japan, for example. Imagine that. How is the country prepared for that? If you had a seismic earthquake of something like the West coast and then a tsunami, you don't have time to prepare. Is any country really up to handling something like that?
GREGORY: I want to get to that point, but before we leave the activism and preparation, we talked to Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark. This is a tweet he sent out last night, yes, on Saturday: “Heading on a pizza run. I'm going to deliver ten pizzas to those staying in our shelter at JFK.” So, I mean, if you have the contrast, Michael Eric Dyson, between President Bush regretting he had a flyover of the storm zone and here's Mayor Booker personally delivering pizzas.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Probably prescription medicine as well, if you got pushed. The reality is that you’ve got to err on the side of caution, and I think these political figures did an admirable job. Obviously, we're grateful that there wasn't the kind of mass fallout that it was predicted or forecast, but the reality is, after Katrina, politicians have been served notice that you have to be involved actively, you have to know your evacuation plans. I think Bloomberg came out looking very well. The only problem I would have is that there were 12,000, you know, prisoners in Rikers Island who were not planned to be evacuated with either plan “a” or zone “a” or “b,” and that's pretty reprehensible because they’re on four hundred acres of Rikers island are on landfill, which is most vulnerable and low. So you’ve to figure out a plan to keep them out of harm's way as well.
GREGORY: Let me stick with you. There's a larger point here and I thought Mayor Booker brought it up, which is here we're having a big debate over the budget in this town, the federal budget and deficit, and also the need for infrastructure improvements. We had an earthquake this week, which pointed out the fact that the East coast is not prepared for something that is rare but still happened. And then just the kind of damage to our infrastructure that storms like this point up. What does it do to that debate?
DYSON: Well, I think it suggests that, a, you've got to be prepared in the sense of knowing what the weak spots are and the hot spots are. Number two, you've got to understand that investment in infrastructure is extremely important. It does have a redounding effect on the debate about whether we invest or whether we cut spending. If you look at infrastructure spending, you've got to be beef that up in order to be prepared, and then ultimately, David, I think what happens is that these political figures get the sense that in the midst of the storm is not the time to be calculating what the consequences will be. You've got to anticipate that. And the upping of FEMA, by the way, under the Bush administration, downgraded to kind of, you know, office within the presidency, at least in the administration that wasn't as important, political attention from the federal level to disaster is extremely important. Infrastructure comes as a result.