Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Blame, blame, blame

Is it really fair to blame President Bush for the flooding of New Orleans?
By making that charge I have attracted the wrath of a number of my conservative blogger friends who have said I was showing a lack of decency as well as being overly partisan, soulless and Loony.

But apparently I am not alone as the waves of incrimination have come beating down on the Bush administration:

Here is conservative columnist Georgie Anne Geyer giving the Bush administration a swift kick in the pants:

The first President Bush (father George H.W.) had a favorite word which we all heard him use so repeatedly it was a kind of joke. The word was "prudent," which means "marked by wisdom or judiciousness" and "shrewd in the management of practical affairs." He was a worthy son of the American Revolution.
The second President Bush (son George W.) is marked, instead, by an overriding and unapologetic recklessness, which means "lacking in caution and deliberately courting danger."

Of course, she is kind compared to what the more moderate and liberal commentators have to say about the situation. Here is just a small sampling:

Paul Krugman - A Can't-Do Government and Killed by Contempt ;
Maureen Dowd - United States of Shame;
Frank Rich - Falluja Floods the Superdome;
Eugene Robinson - It's Your Failure, Too, Mr. Bush;
Eleanor Clift - A Colossal Failure of Leadership

And there are many, many, many more.

But one of the most concise and well reasoned critiquest comes from Kevin Drum at Political Animal who makes clear that he is not just bashing Bush for political gain, but has very specific concerns all stemming from Bush’s conservative philosophy of government.

In addition to Bush's listless lack of leadership and life-as-usual politicking early in the week, what happened was the result of a series of decisions, all flowing out of his natural conservative governing instincts, that taken together made Katrina more damaging than it had to be and seriously eroded our ability to react to its aftermath. These decisions were deliberate and disastrous, and that's why I think Bush deserves a large part of the blame for what happened.

FactCheck.org also does a fairly decent job of trying to summarize the argument over who is to blame for the breached levee system here.

I don’t think there should be any question that Bush should share a good portion of the blame for this catastrophe. The fact that he chose to slash funding for the levee projects during his administration was a huge gamble on his part that turned out to be “lacking in caution and deliberately courting danger” (as Georgie Anne Geyer would say).
Just because the storm may have swamped a fully-funded levee system is no excuse for underfunding the program all these years. Nor is it a legitimate excuse to say that other presidents didn’t fund it adequately so why should I? Bush was the person at the helm when this ship went aground and he can’t turn around and blame it all on mistakes made by previous captains.

To address one of the arguments made in the comments of the previous post, let me say that funding for the levee system should not have come at the expense of our troops in Iraq. But it certainly should have taken precedence over Bush’s tax cuts for his wealthy friends.

If Bush thought that the levee program was a waste of money due to corruption or poor planning or what have you, then why didn’t he demand a better solution rather than just cutting its funding to a trickle?
The problem here is that building up and maintaining the levee system around one of our most important port cities was a job that demanded federal oversight. It was and is too big for just the local government officials to handle. But the Republican philosophy is to leave everything to the local governments and claim that government is the problem and not the solution. Unfortunately for all of us, these are the people who are in charge of our government today and they are doing their best to prove that government doesn’t work.

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