Sunday, February 12, 2006

'Political heat over disasters rising'

The Christian Science Monitor reports that a U.S. House committee report on the Federal response (or, more accurately "lack of response") to hurricane Katrina is going to refocus the nation's attention on that scandalous effort.

It's comes at an inopportune time for the White House, as Karl Rove has determined it's time for Republicans to get back on the 'terrorism' horse to ride into the 2006 election cycle.

But, as Ronald Reagan said, "Facts are stubborn things."

Or, to paraphrase the slogan in the 1992 Clinton campaign war room: "It's America, stupid!"

Here's what the Monitor reports:
According to The Washington Post, which obtained a summary of the report, the document will lay primary blame on top administration officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security Operations Center, and the White House Homeland Security Council.

Bush himself faces criticism: "Earlier presidential involvement could have speeded the response" to Katrina, because Bush could have cut through the bureaucratic resistance that slowed the federal response, the summary reportedly says.
And, as events have continued to unfold, the response has dwindled as the administration has sensed the public at large was shifting its attention to other of the administration's disasters: Iraq, the trade deficits, the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, the collapse of the defined benefit pension system. I could go on, but this is a blog; I don't have a book contract!

Bush's abandonment of the Congressman Richard Baker's plan to help storm-damaged homeowners retrieve some value from their homes was a clear signal that President Short-Attention-Span was ready to get back to the fun stuff of blowing things up. This disaster recovery stuff (like nation-building) is "hard." Particularly so if you're not really interested in doing it. Would Olympic judges add degree of difficulty points to the program based on the willingness to actually undertake the work?

Sorry, Mr. President and Mr. Rove. This is America.

The scenes we saw in the wake of Katrina were not the kinds of things that were supposed to be able to happen in America to American citizens. The incompetence that your agencies exhibited in response to this storm burned their way into contemporary consciousness just as surely as the images of police dogs and firehoses being turned on peaceful demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

The fact that your former lapdog loyalists in the U.S. House of Representatives couldn't bring themselves to ignore this reality is testimony to just how colossal your failure was and just how much trouble your party is in as a result of your indifference to central responsibilities of your presidency.

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