This is politics

Earlier this week, I sat in my air-conditioned office and objected to anyone trying to politicize this tragedy. I didn’t think any distinction should be made between fundraising efforts from conservative or liberal blogs. This is a national tragedy, after all, and there is no room for political ideology at a time like this.

I was wrong. You can’t stop a hurricane, but you can plan for it. You can spend the money on building up the levees instead of spending it on tax cuts for the wealthy. You can have the National Guard troops ready to help their neighbors instead of fighting a bogus war in Iraq. You can make sure that the directors of agencies like FEMA and Homeland Security are competent and prepared instead of political hacks who are more interested in ass-covering than saving lives.

This is what politics is for. This is what government is for. This is why we choose leaders. And anyone who has defended Bush and his administration, his lies to send us to war, his gutting of domestic budgets, his disinterest in the plight of working-class people in this country even before a disaster like this hit, anyone who apologizes for his inability to act and his cavalier attitude even in the middle of this catastrophe, this is one more failure you share responsibility for. After all of this, is there really anyone who can still defend this man?

Steve Gilliard calls out the conservative bloggers in no uncertain terms over on his blog. He’s doing a good job cataloging the incompetence, too.

This story was posted at CNN on Friday, titled “The big disconnect on New Orleans”:

Diverging views of a crumbling New Orleans emerged Thursday, with statements by some federal officials in contradiction with grittier, more desperate views from the streets. By late Friday response to those stranded in the city was more visible.

But the conflicting views on Thursday came accutane within hours, sometimes minutes of each of each other, as reflected in CNN’s transcripts. The speakers include Michael Brown, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, evacuee Raymond Cooper, CNN correspondents and others. Here’s what they had to say:

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The Associated Press moved a very critical story with the very telling slug “katrina_happy_talk”:

The Iraqi insurgency is in its last throes. The economy is booming. Anybody who leaks a CIA agent’s identity will be fired. Add another piece of White House rhetoric that doesn’t match the public’s view of reality: Help is on the way, Gulf Coast.

As New Orleans descended into anarchy, top Bush administration officials congratulated each other for jobs well done and spoke of water, food and troops pouring into the ravaged city. Television pictures told a different story.

read more »

Slate’s Jack Shafer posted a story with the headline “The Rebellion of the Talking Heads”:

In the last couple of days, many of the broadcasters reporting from the bowl-shaped toxic waste dump that was once the city of New Orleans have stopped playing the role of wind-swept wet men facing down a big storm to become public advocates for the poor, the displaced, the starving, the dying, and the dead.

read more »

Then, last night during the feel-good fundraising concert televised on NBC — no doubt being watched in a comfortable hotel room somewhere by those 700 guests who’d been evacuated from the New Orleans Hyatt in front of the thousands of city residents still trapped in the convention center and Superdome — Kanye West broke from the script:

George Bush doesn’t care about black people.

The cameras quickly cut away and his statement was edited out for viewers seeing the program on tape delay. But you can’t edit this stuff out. They don’t care about black people, they don’t care about anyone.

4 Responses to “This is politics”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Mike, thanks for this. This is exactly how I’m feeling, and much better expressed than I can come up with.

  2. Gort Says:

    You are right on. The basic responsibilty of government is to plan for and respond to a disaster. I wanted to send you an email to request your permission to use this post on my blog but I didn’t see a link.

  3. Christine Says:

    “After all of this, is there really anyone who can still defend this man?”

    Amen. You should have heard me hootin’ and hollerin’ as I read your post. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  4. Katie Says:

    Yep. They don’t care about anyone but themselves.
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