5 Ways the Oil Spill Isn't Obama's Katrina

The Root makes a side-by-side comparison of Bush's response to the hurricane's aftermath and Obama's response to the BP oil leak using several criteria.

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As oil continues to spew forth from the site of the Deepwater Horizon explosion 40 miles off America's coastline, an increasing number of pundits and politicians are questioning President Barack Obama's decision-making in the wake of the spill. BP's recent "top kill" plan to stop the leak effectively sunk, and some have taken to calling the tragedy his Hurricane Katrina, citing a slow response time and bureaucratic finger-pointing, while others are saying it's even worse. Are either of those projections right?

Using five criteria, including the time it took to appear on-site, speediness of response, economic fallout and lives lost, The Root attempts to answer that question.

Having considered the numbers, one thing seems clear: In no way is the Gulf of Mexico spill "Obama's Katrina." In fact, to call it that is yet another blow to the thousands who suffered and died needlessly in the aftermath of the hurricane nearly five years ago. Not only are the death tolls and financial impacts vastly different, one must also remember that what happened in New Orleans was a government neglecting its citizens on multiple levels, whereas the BP tragedy was a private company's offshore failure. Whether Obama should have taken the reins from the oil company sooner is debatable; but that's about all that is. See if you agree after reading our side-by-side comparisons.


Bush wins. It took 12 days for Obama to make it down to Louisiana after the oil rig explosion, a week longer than it took Bush to arrive in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.


Obama wins (although the scope of his initial response was more limited than Bush's).

Oil Spill