The criticism of the Bush Administration for its handling of hurricanes Katrina/Rita was, in my increasingly lonely opinion, unjustified Democrat and liberal media opportunism. I am disappointed, but unsurprised, that John McCain has made that narrative his own, and is running against President Bush's unpopular reputation. As I said, my voice is joined by few others.
I will agree that government, at all levels, failed to solve the problems created by nature.
But before Katrina, the expectation of the Federal role was as a backup to local authorities, rather than as a front-line emergency response agent. Katrina marked a turning point, after which disaster response will be henceforth primarily a Federal responsibility.
Government cannot solve every problem, nor can it solve any problem overnight. In particular, natural disasters, even ones for which we have some warning, are going to happen. Government will fail to address them. It's going to happen again, and moving the problem up the food chain from local to Federal will not help.
Whether or not government responds well to an emergency is subject to a toss of dice. Some local officials on the Gulf Coast responded well, for instance, while others worried about disarming the citizenry. Tasking the Federal government with emergency response will make a single toss of the dice matter much more. Each local agency might succeed or fail, but the failure would be limited to only the area of their jurisdiction. A Federal failure is a failure for all.
I understand the political reality: McCain (even if he were not genetically predisposed to solving problems with governmental action) must take responsibility for every woe that falls to Man, and especially for this particular woe.
It would be nice to hear him praise the individuals, who are legion, and local officials, if such there be, who responded with selfless courage to the challenges they faced in the hour of disaster.
It would be even nicer to hear a Federal official make a stand against the growth of Federal power at the expense of State and local authority.
This is one more area in which we've ceded more power to the State to do us good, which power will eventually be used, with the best of intentions or the worst of malice, to do us harm.
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