Skip to comments.After we're all done blaming Bush . . .
Posted on 09/08/2005 1:13:51 PM PDT by crazyhorse691
President Bush and his federal government are to blame. Yes, conduct your investigations. Do all the after-action analysis, but Bush and his federal government are to blame. Forget the fact that an epic act of nature ripped across the Gulf Coast and breached New Orleans' levees. Ignore the fact the Hurricane Katrina response involved officials at every level of government in three states. We know Bush and his federal government are to blame.
In their new book, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner discuss "conventional wisdom." It's a term coined by the economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who held that it's always simple, convenient, comfortable and comforting. I thought of this often while watching the last week's creation of a Katrina "conventional wisdom" in certain quarters. On the left, among Democratic partisans and in some media precincts, it's the now a given that Bush and his federal government are to blame.
Many of our compatriots, it seems, have jumped to their pre-Katrina battle stations in the storm's wake. You might think a natural disaster of this magnitude might prompt some fresh thinking or a sense of proportionality. You might think all the death and devastation would usher in a truce in our political wars, at least while others are out saving lives, clean up and burying the dead.
Not for some. They have looked at Katrina through the same lens they donned beforehand. If they were keyed up about global warming, Bush was to blame for the hurricane because he opposed the Kyoto Accords. If they opposed the Iraq War, he's to blame for an alleged lack of National Guard troops in New Orleans or for taking away funds for levee building and water projects. If they've spent their careers looking at everything through the prism of race, he's is to blame because he doesn't care about Katrina's victims because they're black. Even anti-Bush celebs were back on the scene after Katrina.
The silliness of this opportunistic hogwash is clear even to many Bush-bashers. But there's one element of new Bush-and-his-federal-government-are-to-blame conventional wisdom that's worth considering. It's the new conventional wisdom's "failure of leadership" claim. This line, of course, comes from the same folks who've spent years belaboring Bush's "failure of leadership" in all areas. A large subset believes "Bush is an idiot," and their contempt for him couldn't be clearer. If Bush hurled himself into New Orleans waters to save a drowning baby, many would probably have faulted him for not being a better swimmer or for engaging in a photo-op.
Never mind that some of the charges this time around -- he failed to send in troops to New Orleans quickly enough, his administration failed to deploy the USS Bataan to the area -- collapse on inspection. Blame-Bush cries largely ignore the fact that officials at other government levels played key roles in this disaster.
Yes, it's important to figure out what Bush's federal government might have done better, but the "Bush-administration-is-to-blame" crew ignores the actions of New Orleans and Louisiana officials with front-line responsibilities. Why did Bush have to urge New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco to order an evacuation early on? Why wasn't busing providing for people who made it to the Superdome, since they learned a year earlier in Hurricane Ivan that this was needed? Why did the city's buses remain parked? Why wasn't the Superdome stocked with supplies in the absence of busing? Why did the locals fail to implement their own emergency plans? Why didn't state officials allow the feds and first responders in sooner?
The failure to even focus on these questions suggests some critics are uninterested in a balanced exploration of the issues. They're only blame-gaming.
Bush backers should not fall into the opposite trap. They shouldn't offer up knee-jerk defense of the administration. Mistakes were made. Of course they were. There always are in undertakings of this nature and magnitude.
Happily, the public seems to understand this. Opinion polls are quite balanced on Katrina and its aftermath. This won't make the "Bush-is-to-blame" folks happy, but a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that only 13 percent said Bush is "most responsible for the problems in New Orleans after the hurricane" 18 percent said "federal agencies" and 25 percent "state and local officials." Thirty-percent said no one is to blame. Maybe the new conventional wisdom is not so conventional.
David Reinhard, associate editor, can be reached at 503-221-8152 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Damn! There just might be hope for the Peoples Republic of Oregon.
I am shocked, SHOCKED that this appeared in such a liberal rag as the Oregonian.....
The real question here is what does a President do when confronted by incompetent/corrupt local politicians during a real no shixt crisis?
Remember that Gay New Jersey Governor Mcgreevey?...He hired his gay non citizen lover to be the states Homeland Security Coordinator! How much more of this type of Griftering is hidden in the bowels of the big DNC Machine?
(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
And why didn't the City of New Orleans provide adequate police protection to the people inside the Superdome? Why were thugs and rapists allowed to prey upon the law-biding and vulnerable inside the Superdome?
They are no different than the criminal looters on the streets of the Big Easy. Both are exploiting a tragedy for their own selfish reasons.
The difficulty is that this particular wing of the party is (1) in charge at the moment, and (2) evidently feels that there is no loss of credibility resulting from this sort of behavior. In the latter they are very mistaken. This is a level of political tone-deafness that even other Dems are finding uncomfortable, and it isn't the first instance.
"This is a level of political tone-deafness that even other Dems are finding uncomfortable, and it isn't the first instance."
True. You would think that they would notice that only 13% blame the President. That doesn't even add up to the total we'd expect from the usual suspects of the blame bush cabal.
Pelosi and Dean will have to actually campaign and campaign hard to move that number.
David Reinhard needs to talk to his fellow Oregonian op-ed writers.
I just called him and left a message of thanks!
Was their token platitude before getting back to the Bush bashing business as usual.