Yet it has created a healthy debate on our government and what it is expected to do. Many believe that one the key roles of the federal government is to help whenever local and state officials can't muster enough resources to help themselves.
This seems to be a logical role for government, yet there are many who believe that helping yourself is the only real way to build an "ownership" society.
The problem as always is that people see things filtered through their own reality. It's hard to put yourself in someone else's shoes and image not owning a car, or even worse not having enough money to buy gasoline for your care. The most ironic thing is that the very people who believe in individualism and boot strapping one's self to success who are the ones who have just demonstrated more clearly than ever that it isn't what you can do that can get you that high paying job, it's who you know or even better who was your college roommate.
As is often the case a view from afar pretty well sums up the situation. This quote is from the article, "Soldiers rescue the politicians" which was published today in the Toronto Star. (free registration required)
The problem would seem to run deeper — to the type of people now serving in government.
The growing importance of ideology has meant that well-rounded pragmatists have been squeezed out of the U.S. political process, replaced by ideologues and party loyalists whose main attribute is not what they have done, but what they believe.Brown was not the head of FEMA because of his expertise in emergency relief, but because he was a friend of former FEMA director Joe Allbaugh, who was George Bush's campaign manager in 2000. Prior to joining FEMA in 2002, Brown had served as commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association for a decade. And among his subordinates at FEMA, one was a veteran of the 2000 Bush campaign and another had worked in the White House in 2001 planning presidential trips
"These guys kind of have a deer-in-the-headlights look; they haven't been through this kind of thing and it shows," commented Paul Light, director of the Centre for Public Service at the Brookings Institution.The politicians were no better at providing leadership. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco was almost invisible, Mayor Nagin colourful but ineffective — his police force just melted — and the president strangely disengaged and rhetorically inept.
Interestingly, E.J. Dionne in today's Washington Post, calls Katrina, the "End of the Bush Era."
And so the Bush Era ended definitively on Sept. 2, the day Bush first toured the Gulf Coast States after Hurricane Katrina. There was no magic moment with a bullhorn. The utter failure of federal relief efforts had by then penetrated the country's consciousness. Yesterday's resignation of FEMA Director Michael Brown put an exclamation point on the failure.
There are a couple of results that are surprising to me in all the recent polls. First if you go to the Pew Research Center website, you will that 67% of people believe that President Bush could have done more. Yet when you dig down in the article some of the data is very disconcerting.
Fully 85% of Democrats and 71% of independents think the president could have done more to get aid to hurricane victims flowing more quickly. Republicans, on balance, feel the president did all he could to get relief efforts going..
Of course it gets even worse.
Roughly three-quarters of Democrats (76%) rate the federal government's efforts in this area as only fair or poor. Most Republicans (63%) give the federal government positive marks for its response to the hurricane.
This must be the came group that measures things by ideology not facts. I think the challenge is to understand that many leaders, including the president were out of the loop. This is from Newsweek.
Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.
How this could be—how the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness," as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century—is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace.
There obviously are people who believe that governments (city, state, & federal) have done well in this crisis, but I have to wonder where they are getting their news and if they know which end is up.