Before we get to that, though, let's recall his April 2008 criticism of the Bush administration on Katrina: "Never again will a disaster of this nature be handled in the terrible and disgraceful way it was handled."
Yet when the levees gave way in 2005 and New Orleans was engulfed in death and destruction, McCain was enjoying that birthday cake, shown above, with George Bush.
I realize that McCain was a senator, not the president. He didn't have the opportunity to snap into action the way Bush did, by watching a DVD prepared by an anxious staff member trying to impress upon the president the depth of the catastrophe; flying over New Orleans to get an aerial view; telling "Brownie," the former official for the International Arabian Horse Association, that he was doing a "heckuva job," and making a Karl Rove-choreographed post-Katrina speech in New Orleans, one as meaningful as "Mission Accomplished."
No, McCain couldn't have done any of these things. But the one thing he could have done, if he were as concerned about the residents of New Orleans in 2005 as he professed to be in 2008, was to tell Bush, "Screw the birthday party! What are you doing here? Why aren't you in New Orleans doing something?"
McCain, after all, is a "maverick," so he needn't have worried about talking out of turn.
And had Bush taken such advice, he would have served as a good example to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who was taking in "Spamalot" on Broadway and shopping at Ferragamo as the floodwaters hit.
In any event, McCain's post-Katrina record shows a complete lack of interest in planning for future catastrophes and meeting the needs of the victims. Think Progress reported that he voted twice against the creation of a commission to investigate the failure of the levees. He also voted against a 2006 spending bill "...that would have provided $28 billion in hurricane relief, and legislation that would have extended unemployment and Medicaid benefits to hurricane victims for several months." McCain's sordid record on New Orleans is the subject of the following video:
When questioned about his voting against the two commissions on June 4, 2008, McCain falsely stated, "I've supported every investigation." He then tried to sidestep the issue: "I'm not exactly familiar with what you said... I don't know exactly what you are describing at this moment." View his response:
McCain's record of bluster on New Orleans parallels his meaningless talk and contradictory actions on a host of issues. He states that he supports veterans, yet he voted against the 2008 Webb amendment to expand educational benefits for veterans and against the expansion of medical services during three votes in 2006. He states that he understands the problems facing today's economically stressed families, yet he's against the minimum wage and universal health care, while he's for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. He states that he wants to do something about energy, yet he skipped eight votes last year on alternative energy, perhaps to avoid angering his big oil buddies, and offers false hopes about drilling. He states that he's against Obama's timetable of withdrawal from Iraq, then reverses himself as the Iraqi and American administrations start to embrace it. He plays the tough talker on Georgia, refusing to criticize or even acknowledge Saakashvili's invasion of South Ossetia.
Notice that you don't hear too much anymore about McCain's "Straight Talk Express." Perhaps that's an implicit acknowledgment that it has derailed.