Saturday, May 1, 2010

Disaster Politics

You'll pardon me if I'm not spouting flames from my fanny over the federal government's "slow response" to the BP oil spill, or Eight Days In April as Legal Insurrection has dubbed it. Sure you can criticize the Obama Administration's slow response. You can make fun of the "regime." You can note that the progressive loudmouths who castigated the Bush Administration for its failures during Hurricane Katrina have suddenly gotten nervous and circumspect about politicizing disaster. All fair game.

But trying to turn this into "Obama's Katrina" is a step too far for my taste. The media and political attacks on President Bush in the days after Katrina hit land were outrageous, of course, and a perfect example of the poisonous black heart of the Left. American citizens were stranded on rooftops and in the Superdome, and all some people could do was complain about Michael Brown's horse farm, among other trivia. It was "Queen of All Media" Oprah Winfrey's show that broadcast the outrageous claim - from the chief of New Orleans police - that there was cannibalism at the Superdome. It was Kanye West who said, in the middle of a fund raiser, that "George Bush hates black people." It was beneath contempt and was all done in lieu of helping recover from a disaster that had affecting an area of land the size of Great Britain. Among other things, Bush was criticized for not doing a fly-over of the scene, so he could furrow his brow for the nightly news, as if that would have made a damn bit of difference. Maybe noblesse oblige works for some people, but I can't think of a single life such a stunt would have saved. For his part, Obama will visit the Gulf Coast this weekend. Happy, now? I doubt it.

The way this stuff used to be resolved is the person one step down the totem pole took the hit, while the president acquired a reputation for inaction without the media beating people over the head about it. Napolitano, for one, seems completely out of her depth here, and may not even realize that the Coast Guard, among other things, is part of her department. But, since 9/11, the new pattern is: "everything is the fault of the other guy because of his politics, and the only person who gets fired is some low-level grunt who might have taken a coffee break at the wrong time." The only people in leadership positions who are at fault are always in the other political party and no one can ever lose their job because they are "indispensable." If President Romney takes office in 2012, I'm hoping San Francisco doesn't experience any 7.0 earthquakes during his term (unless there's a special "gathering place" for registered Republicans...)

For too long, Americans have been conditioned to believe that disasters have a "narrative" or "meaning," as part of a media spectacle that can only be resolved by political action. We have lost touch with a fundamental aspect of the human condition: that life is filled with tragedy and that disasters are ... disastrous! If you politicize disaster, you will politicize the relief effort, too. Are we really going to become a country where the scope of federal aid depends on how your precinct voted in the last presidential election? I hope not.

Anyway, I'm going to be too busy hitting "Refresh" on Drudge to better follow the Obama Cheating Scandal.

UPDATE: I've corrected a mistake noted in the comments.


  1. Kanye Wes said George Bush hates white people? Did you mean to say black people?