Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) tried to distance himself from his published statements that the ruined city of New Orleans should be “bulldozed,” now saying he supports rebuilding the city its levees are repaired:
Hastert was still reeling from reaction to his comments earlier this week about the storm-ravaged city. “It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed,” he said in an interview with the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. Asked whether it made sense to spend billions of dollars rebuilding a city that lies below sea level, he told the paper, “I don’t know. That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Hastert later issued a statement saying he was not “advocating that the city be abandoned or relocated.” But Louisiana Democrats were incensed. Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco demanded an apology. “To kick us when we’re down and destroy hope, when hope is the only thing we have left,” she said, “is absolutely unthinkable for a leader in his position.”
Hastert also found himself making excuses for not showing up in Washington to shepherd a bill through the House of Representatives that provided $10.5 billion in disaster relief for hurricane victims. Instead, he attended a campaign fundraising event for a colleague and a charity event, which he said benefited disaster relief efforts.
There’s no word on whether the Republican House Speaker also went shoe shopping or played golf while thousands of Americans were sick and dying in the streets.