The Right Coast

September 04, 2005
Violating the 11th commandment
By Tom Smith

Which is, you may recall, "thou shall not criticize a fellow Republican." I always vote Republican, except when I vote Libertarian, and I worked in the Reagan White House, though technically I was not a political appointee. But I don't see any reason to pull punches on the federal response to the Katrina disaster. I'm reading as much as most people, and I understand that the causes of the failures are complex. But step one is to recognize a failure when you see it. If you don't end up getting off the beaches, or whatever the appropriate military analogy is, all the excuses in the world do nobody any good. It seems to me Newt got it exactly right, as he often does, when he said it is hard to believe we are prepared for a surprize terrorist attack, when we were obviously so ill prepared for a storm that gave us days of warning. My working hypothesis is that our disaster response model assumes a vigorous and skilled response by state and local government, with federal backup, and that model is wildly inappropriate for many parts of the US, but especially the Gulf coast. I sure would not want to rely on San Diego local government for relief, and last year's Cedar Fire shows why. I did get some valuable psychological advice when the operator told me to trust my feelings on the question of whether to evacuate or not.

Anyway, this is an example of defenses of W on the blogosphere. I don't really object to it, and I suppose somebody has to do the work of defending Bush against nutty left wing attacks, such as his not caring about black people. But more important is seeing the evidence before our eyes that our disaster response capabilities have been revealed to be woefully not up to the task. We need clearer lines of authority, more expansive emergency powers, better follow through on preparedness, better civilian defense, especially in vulnerable areas (like Southern California). We need this, whichever political party it helps or hurts.