Friday, September 02, 2005


Katrina and Political Capital

In all the tragedy of what passes for New Orleans at this moment of catastrophe, earnest souls fret for how to manage the unmanageable. Caring citizens band together and pool their resources to demonstrate that Americans who join together for the wretched places in the world, can likewise and more be counted on when American lives are threatened.

And yet, there are those who would put any honest appraisal of the situation up for pawn, in exchange for thirty pieces of political capital.

I have heard and read the most remarkable criticisms and suggestions of perceived causes for the calamity in New Orleans. No one should be surprised at the frequency and variety of the ways in which President Bush is held accountable for disaster.

Distortion #1: President Bush led the US to turn away from the Kyoto Protocol, thus failing to take the necessary (and sufficient?) steps towards ending the mythic Global Warming. No matter that there is no way that any such signing would have changed anything this soon, nor for that matter any sound basis in science for thinking Kyoto itself would achieve any such thing.

Distortion #2: President Bush “elected” to go to war with Iraq, and thus, leaves our military overstretched and out of position to respond to the emergency in New Orleans. Despite the obvious fact that Louisiana, Mississippi, and other Mississippi delta and regional neighbors can immediately muster 40,000 troops, and notwithstanding that most military that has been deployed to Iraq lack many of the skills requisite for the necessary aid. (See Redstate for more on the reality of the "military" situation with Katrina.)

Distortion #3: President Bush has neglected to personally anticipate a tragedy of this magnitude in an area of the US long on notice of just such an occurrence. Upon the failure of local, county and state emergency organizations to surmount and control the magnitude of the disaster, President Bush withholds an immediate and appropriate Federal response to this disaster, somehow construed of his own making.

This is the most ironic of portrayals. Not to place blame on already burdened victims, but what kinds of plans were in place for the kind of flooding experts have warned could be the destruction of New Orleans? Plans laid up by the City, the Mayor or its City Council? Citizen's groups? And what of the states involved? Was there no emergency plan of sufficient gravity and detail to anticipate a total evacuation?

And what of the response to a city in crisis of those who would take criminal advantage of defenseless city and abandoned property? I can tell you what attitude your fellow citizens in Iraq harbor towards those who would rape and pillage, kill and spread lawlessness in an already ravaged city. I think those who view this city fair prey should beware of those Guardsmen just back from Iraq who will now walk into battle to stem this latest tide of violence.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as I write this is taking decisive action on all fronts. The Governors are stepping forward, committing all the resources at their disposal to saving lives and establishing order. The State National Guards are moving into position to halt looting and criminality and secure the city for evacuation and the beginning of whatever will be the city in the place of this devastation. The President is doing what Presidents can do, mobilizing Federal resources, setting priorities, giving Presidential voice to public outcry.

As I said at the start, there are those who would trade on the difficulties of the present for whatever political capital they may gain.

Must the response to gathering threats always be so? Can the antagonism to the current administration, to its party, even to the very vision and purpose of spreading Democracy abroad, draw so much scorn?

Why should the calamities of the heartland be cause for any cause apart from that which fixates the enemies of the President? No good be cause for celebration, no ill so misbegotten and unfortunate not to find some crack, some flaw, some wedge of callous advantage. And yet, there isn’t time for such recriminations now. There are lives depending on those who care more for good, to focus on the good we may yet do, than find such constant fault with what might have been.

Links: Basil's Blog, Captain's Quarters, Indepundit, Outside the Beltway, Mudville Gazette, Wizbang

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