The Blame Game

Well, I see Our Fearless Leader has launched an effort to rescue the true victim of Katrina’s aftermath: his approval rating. The first step? Find someone to blame!

There’s a lot of blame being thrown around about who’s responsible for the massive destruction left behind by the hurricane, and with good reason — loads of people seriously dropped the ball on this one. The pre-hurricane evacuation of New Orleans efforts clearly weren’t sufficient, as they relied on people being able to drive their own cars out of the city, which for some reason left large numbers of the poor and lower class behind. If only there were some buses in the city! Using the Superdome as a true “shelter of last resort” might’ve worked, if not for the fact that it apparently didn’t have the order or supplies needed to shelter the people there. And from what I’ve heard from people who were there, local law enforcement wasn’t exactly up to the challenge of maintaining order or safety in the aftermath. Not to mention relying on cell phones and Blackberries for emergency communication! Didn’t anyone realize that in a disaster, just maybe the infrastructure those devices rely on might not be available?

So there’s certainly been plenty of mis-steps by the local officials here, but that certainly doesn’t leave the federal government with its hands clean. Funds for maintaining the levees around the city were raided to finance operations in Iraq, despite the warnings of engineers. The feds repeatedly rejected aid to the area. National Guard and other federal relief workers took forever to get to where they needed to be in sufficiently large numbers to do anything. The excuse? Well, we weren’t officially asked by the local government to help, so we didn’t do anything.

They talk an awful lot about being Christians, but I guess I missed the part in the Bible says to love your neighbor unless the paperwork didn’t go through.

And make no mistake, there is no excuse why disaster planning was this abysmal — on all sides. Remember how after 9/11 there was a lot of noise about protecting this country from terrorists, WMDs, etc.? If we can’t adequately respond to a natural disaster that we know is coming well in advance, what hope do we have of responding to another attack? I’m pretty sure Al Qaeda isn’t going to give everyone a heads-up the week before. Isn’t emergency response an essential part of preparing for terrorist attacks? Are we still just as unprepared as we were four years ago? I had certainly thought we were, but this all seems to suggest otherwise.

So you can imagine my disgust when I see that not only is the right trying to deflect any and all criticism against the government’s handling of the disaster, but they’re using such a pathetically transparent strawman to do it. From what I’ve seen, Republican marching orders are to accuse anyone daring to impugn the infallibility of Our Fearless Leader of blaming Bush for the hurricane.

I call bullshit. Show me one person who is saying “George W. Bush caused Hurricane Katrina.” Guess what: nobody is. What they are saying is that the pitiful, half-hearted response of the federal government made an already terrible situation even worse.

The worst part of it is, this is exactly what I’ve come to expect from the Republican party.

2 Responses

  1. *ahem*

    Very nicely defended argument. Let’s look at the fact that we built a giant modern city below sea level. That’s right. Gravity is against us here, making standing water flow downhill…INTO the city. For years, scientists, disaster specialists, and other such predictors have repeatedly stated a large category 4 or 5 hurricane would be disasterous. I blame the city of New Orleans, at least partially.

    Secondly, yes, let’s question the blaming of President Bush. Here I was under the impression that over half the country didn’t like him and that he “wasn’t their president”. Okay then…take some self responsiblity. Where is it written that the White House needs to watch over everybody and everything all the time? I guess it’s only okay to want the government to help you in your worst time of need, but not do it’s best to run the country all other times? I thought we were the independent, free-spirited, persevering Americans. I suppose all that rhetoric and opposition to any number of recent platforms or laws by the Republican party or even Bush kinda goes out the window when you’re packed into the Superdome without any material possessions.

    I say, if you live in California, prepare for earthquakes. If you live in Alaska, prepare for snow. If you live in Texas, prepare for a drought. If you live in the southeast, know that EVERY SINGLE YEAR hurricanes form and strike. Do you really think we could set up our entire country to have supplies and emergency response team for every single little problem that could ever come our way? No, that’s just impossible.

    Times like these calls for understanding, helping fellow friends and Americans, and most importantly, learning from our mistakes. The Titanic sank, and now we have lifeboats for everybody. The Challenger exploded, and now we don’t launch shuttles in freakishly cold weather with only one redundant O-ring. Tacoma Narrows collapses, and we build better bridges because of it.

  2. I certainly agree that you can’t put all the blame for the mishandling of evacuation, rescue, and relief efforts on the federal government, but that’s doesn’t mean that it deserves none of the blame either. After something like this, it’s essential to look at what went wrong and determine what can be done to reduce the risk of it happening again.

    Seeing the aftermath being treated as a PR problem instead of an emergency response problem doesn’t instill very much confidence in me that that will happen. We already see the Republicans are fighting a 9/11-esque bipartisan commission to study what happened. If only hurricane damage control were so swift as political damage control.

    It certainly doesn’t help that we’ve been in a permanent election season for the past couple of years, where the first thing on our leaders’ minds whenever something happens is “how can we use this to boost $OUR_PARTY and hurt $THEIR_PARTY?” We aren’t pointing out the failures of local officials to prepare for the situation because they share in the responsibility, but because they’re Democrats. We can’t let you question whether putting FEMA under DHS has made it focus exclusively on responding to terrorism instead of on responding to emergencies in general, because if you don’t like it then move to Iraq.

    It’s as though after the Titanic sank, the shipbuilders got together and accused anyone who suggested no ship was unsinkable of hating maritime travel.

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