Sunday, September 25, 2005

Viva New Orleans

In today's LA Times, Gregory Rodriquez discusses the rebuilding in New Orleans and how it will, in all likelihood, be accomplished largely by immigrant labor, much of it undocumented.

The claim is perfectly reasonable, especially given Bush's tweaking of the Davis-Bacon act. But it set me to wondering:

Prior to Katrina, you'll recall that the GOP was desperately trying to woo southern black voters. Lil' Kenny Mehlman wasn't the least bit coy, saying, "Our plan for 2006 and 2008 is to increase African American turnout." Of course, now that hundreds of thousands of African American voters have been displaced by Katrina, the question of electoral math is tempting to ponder.

As is the impact of what Mr. Rodriguez predicts: That many immigrant workers that assist with Gulf rebuilding may very well stay there when job is done. While the scope and scale of Gulf rebuilding hasn't been commented on in much detail, clearly this is not a project that can be accomplished in a scant matter of weeks.

Most will not intend to stay where their new jobs are, but the longer the jobs last, the more likely they will settle permanently. One recent poll of New Orleans evacuees living in Houston emergency shelters found that fewer than half intend to return home. In part, their places will be taken by the migrant workers. Former President Clinton recently hinted as much on NBC's "Meet the Press" when he said New Orleans will be resettled with a different population.

It will be interesting to see just what kind of effect this population reshuffle will have on upcoming elections. My tin hat notices that the Davis-Bacon Act maneuver will mean lots of jobs for lots of Latinos, who, coincidentally, are increasingly supportive of Bush (44% in 2004 from 35% in 2000). Or is it so coincidental? I'm so deeply suspicious of the GOP that it's easy to think this is no happy accident.

Then again, with the exception of Orleans, St. James, West Baton Rouge, St. Helena and East Caroll parishes, LA is clearly a Red state. According to CNN's map, quite a lot of it is "pink" (soft support), but in the end, a rose is a rose, right?

Clearly I'm not instinctively Rovian enough to grasp the full implications, whatever they may be, but I have enough sense to suspect that there's a larger partisan goal beyond making it easier for contractors to hire workers. Yes, this means I am, in effect, dismissing out of hand Bush's claims that he's making it easier to GET work on construction crews, but honestly -- can you blame me? Seriously. Give me one reason I should extend the benefit of the doubt to Bush anymore.

:::listening to crickets chirping:::

Yeah, that's what I thought.

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