In one of those odd political moments that combine a poignant message with somewhat opportunistic maneuvering, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean took part in a cleanup effort in flood-ravaged New Orleans and used the moment to take a shot at the Republicans.
In his first post-Katrina visit to the Crescent City, Dean helped Acorn, a nonprofit community group that works with low-income families, to clean out Vincent Cooper's flood-damaged home on Derbigny Street in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans.
"I don't want to be partisan at a time like this, but this is why the Republicans are going to be out of business," Dean said, pointing to the destruction around him. "Nine months after the hurricane, to have this? This is ridiculous. This is not the America we grew up in."
When asked if he thought Americans had moved beyond Katrina and may forget about the storm by the time the November elections rolled around, Dean replied, "This is a searing, burning issue, and I think it is going to cost George Bush his legacy and it's going to cost the Republicans the House and the Senate and maybe the presidency in the next election. People will never forget this."
The Acorn Home Clean-Out project is a volunteer drive to help people gut their damaged homes so that rehabilitation can begin. The 68-year old Cooper, a retired shipyard heavy-lift operator, has lived in this house since 1971.
Dean is in the Crescent City for the Democratic National Committee's annual spring meeting. The 350 DNC members and staffers attending the meeting are taking part in various community-service rebuilding projects in New Orleans.