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September 02, 2005

Critics trying to have it both ways

The President is taking heat for responding too slowly to the Katrina disaster. James Taranto covers how angry folks on the left have been reacting in general ("It's global warming!", "It's because Mississippi has a Republican governor!"), but the speed issue is one that keeps coming up.

The NY Times calls Bush's response too little, too late.

George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.

One of the criticisms I have of many pundits and news reporters on the Left is that, no matter at all what Bush does, they'll find some way to criticize it. It doesn't matter how objectively good his action may be, it simply must be shot down. Don't believe me? Well Sherman, set the Way Back Machine to August 15, 2004, a little over a year ago. CBS reports on what folks are saying to Bush's response to Hurricane Charley.
Even before the storm hit, the president declared four counties disaster areas to speed federal money to victims. But that quick response fueled suspicion that he is using disaster politics to help his campaign in one of the most critical battleground states, a notion the president dismissed Sunday.

"Yeah, and if I didn't come they'd have said he should have been here more rapidly," Mr. Bush said.

Just like they are saying now. And precisely what they said to Dubya's father.
The president is trying not to repeat his father's mistakes. After Hurricane Andrew flattened parts of south Florida in 1992, state officials blamed the first President Bush for not answering their calls for help quickly enough, and trying to make up that by overcompensating later.

It's a lesson the current president and political analysts have not forgotten.

"President Bush Sr. put so much money into the state after Hurricane Andrew that he was accused of buying votes in that election. So there is potential that the president could float so much money into Florida that people would say that's political opportunism," says political analyst Craig Crawford.

So a Republican President, by the definition of the Left, can only respond either too quickly or too slowly, and will spend either too much or too little money. This is what playing politics with human suffering looks like. Independents, take note.

Posted by Doug at September 2, 2005 02:45 PM

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Past criticism does not negate current criticism of the federal government for failing to protect New Orleans. By using the current catastrophe as an opportunity to attack the Left, you too are exploiting human suffering for political gain. The chaos that befell MS and LA might have been avoided if the government had heeded warnings of the potential for just such a catastrophe. Does Bush bear some blame? I agree with Matt, that now is not a good time to engage in that debate. But accountability needs to be dealt with at some time in the near future. And I think it's understandable that a lot of people are angry about how capital - both monetary and human - has been diverted from domestic uses like protecting Gulf cities to uses of questionable morality and practicality abroad.

The most insightful line I have read about reaction to this disaster comes from a poster at this very web site who reaches across the political aisle to remind us of something important about ourselves:

Posted by: dem at September 2, 2005 05:40 PM

Were that DemFromCT was writing the news copy and editorials. Unfortunatly, the majority of the punditry on the Left is already assigning blame. (See the Taranto link and scroll on down). All I was pointing out is that there is no way a Republican can do anything to satisfy them, which says something about the aforementioned punditry.

I am not using the catastrophe to attack the Left. I am using their own words to point out their shifting and unattainable standards when they have a Republican in their sights. They are behaving erratically. I'm just helping folks see it so they can take it with the grain (nay pillar) of salt it deserves.

If you do want to talk about allocation of resources, understand that the levee that gave way had recently been upgraded, and that complaints about not enough being done to improve them go back to before the Bush administration. All that you wish to make right in the world did not start going wrong in January, 2000 (short memory of the aforementioned punditry notwithstanding).

Posted by: Doug Payton at September 2, 2005 06:14 PM