Thursday, September 08, 2005

Note to Chertoff: Don't Talk About The Disaster Unless You Plan to Blame Yourself

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff offended a bunch of Congressional Democrats (credit to Drudge) when he had the gall to disagree with the way that the media is reporting the New Orleans disaster during a briefing. The referenced article indicates that the Democrats became frustrated and offended with the way Chertoff and his staff described the scene in New Orleans, claiming that the media's reporting provided only a "soda straw" view of the real scene.

And while you pause to ponder the truly insensitive and brutish implications of that statement, please be sure to post them, because I'm missing the problem.

Chertoff's point is that the media is presenting the worst. And who could blame them? The scene in New Orleans, especially in the first days after the hurricane, was horrendous. Nobody had ever seen that kind of thing in America before. Chertoff's point, though, was that the city was not one big Superdome or Convention Center for purposes of being an evolving humanitarian disaster. Those sites were not an accurate sampling of the rest of the city. So why does that offend anyone?

It's not that they were offended, but rather disappointed. They wanted to hear how badly George W. Bush, or at least his staff--and thereby he--had screwed it up. Failing at their attempt to pin Bush as the bad guy for not doing Mayor Ray Nagin's and Gov. Kathleen Blanco's jobs for them, they went for the throat of Michael Brown at FEMA, or Chertoff, or Rumsfeld for not getting the military in there fast enough. If they can't get Bush, they want the head of one of his Departments or Agencies. Note how loud the cries are for Brown's head. He's just the easiest target. These unprincipled partisan Democrats want to pin fault on a disaster around the Administration's neck any way they can, and they will not be satisfied with explanations that the problems, as horrible as they are, are being managed on the federal level as best as our technology and manpower allows.

The Congressional Democrats wanted to believe the media version much more than the version of the Secretary of Homeland Security who had just toured and seen the devastation so that he could help formulate a plan to correct it. And while nobody paints a rosy scenario, the Democrats' reaction indicates that this remains, more than anything, an issue of political opportunity for them. They didn't want accurate information to make decisions about aid packages, they wanted to hear nothing more than inculpatory statements by Administration officials. But like Galileo at the Inquisition, Chertoff was not able to provide the Democrats with the view of the disaster--packed with Bush Administration admissions of fault--that they longed to hear.

And one wonders what good the Democrats ever expect to do in Washington when their sole objective is not to better America and the people who elected them, but to destroy George W. Bush and his Administration. Bush will be in office a whole lot longer than the people of New Orleans go hungry and homeless. One hopes that these partisans get to approving the aid package before that. Or is it always going to be about Bush?

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