Sunday, September 11, 2005

Katrina: Republican governance drowns in the bowl of New Orleans 

The Republican Noise Machine is cranking up the volume on yet another alibi for Bush. It's one of their favorites, and a real golden oldie. Wait for it—

Government is the problem!

They really have nothing new to say, do they? The party of ideas is all out of ideas; no wonder all the wingers are holding a ginormous cirlejerk about whether the memorial to Flight 93 is shaped like a croissant—oops, I meant an Islamic Crescent. They look at the corpses in the streets of New Orleans and have nothing to say. Nothing.

Just to get ever-so-thoughtful Republican uber-shill David "I'm writing as bad as I can" Brook's latest alibi for Bubble Boy on the record:

of course we need limited but energetic government. But liberals who think this disaster is going to set off a progressive revival need to explain how a comprehensive governmental failure is going to restore America's faith in big government.
(via Times)

Nice try, Dave. And you've got to admire the Republican Noise Machine, of which Brooks is such an important cog—they're real, um, pros. The intelligent design behind the ever-changing alibis is a masterful example of defense in depth. First, blame the locals. Didn't work. Then, blame bureaucracy. Didn't work. Then, blame Brownie, the sacrificial victim. Didn't work. Now, it's time to drop the Big One: the old Republican standby since morning again in America—blame government!

When it comes to accepting responsibility and accountability, these guys are truly at the toddler level, aren't they?

"Georgie, did you break the lamp?"

"No! I never touched it! Besides, when I touched it, it was already broken!" And so on to wearisome length.

Anyhow, to place the responsibility and accountability where it needs to be placed:

Katrina is not a failure of government. Katrina is a failure of the Republican goverance.

Of course, it does help to look at the facts. And Brooks, at least in his rhetoric, pays tribute to this Enlightenment notion. Brooks writes:

For the brutal fact is, government tends toward bureaucracy, which means elaborate paper flow but ineffective action. Government depends on planning, but planners can never really anticipate the inevitable complexity of events. And American government is inevitably divided and power is inevitably devolved.

Sounds plausible, right? But let's look at the Bush administration bureaucracy in action (from Newsweek's "Bush Blows It", back):

For most of those first few days, Bush was hearing what a good job the Feds were doing. Bush likes "metrics," numbers to measure performance, so the bureaucrats gave him reassuring statistics.

People told Bush what He wanted to hear? Who knew?

Why on earth would that be?

Could it be that people, by now, have had experience with what Bush wants, and give it to him? That people know whistleblowers are fired? That scientists who want to do science are fired? That everyone who was right about Iraq troop strength (a "metric") or about WMDs (another "metric") was fired? And that everyone who was wrong was promoted? And then given the Medal of Freedom? That people know that only Bush loyalists are rewarded—and that the test of loyalty is telling Bush what he wants to hear? (That's called drinking the Kool-Aid, back)

And could it be that because Bush populated FEMA with public relations flaks (see back for the details that would be amazing if we didn't know Bush so well) we have a government in name only?

A government that (like the C.P.A. in Iraq) has been so hollowed out and infested by Republican operatives and political appointees that it can no longer function? Can no longer function except to distribute billions of taxpayer largesse to politically connected corporations?

Sorry, Dave. Katrina was "government" in the same way that "A Night at The Opera" by the Marx Brothers is opera. Except that the results—for everyone but the kind of gods who like to pull wings off flies, and the kind of people who laugh alone at night—have been anything but as funny.

Katrina was not a failure of government.

Katrina was a failure of the Republican theory of governance; the theory of governance ("government is the problem") that the Bush administration, along with a generation of Republican ideologues, believed in and put into action with great energy and determination.

Remember what Mike "Heckuva Job" Brown said, before Bush had his feet nailed to the floor under his desk back in DC? "I don't want to alarm anyone that New Orleans is filling up like a bowl. That isn't happening."

"New Orleans not filling up like a bowl"? That was exactly what was happening! The blogs knew it before Brownie did! That's not a failure of government; that's a failure of Brown; that's a failure of Bush, who appointed Brown (you too, Whiney Joe); it's a failure of Bush's good friend, Allbaugh, who pimped Brown to Bush; it's a failure of the entire Bush administration, which didn't bring this fool to Bush's attention before the catastrophe happened; and it's a failure of the Republican theory of governance, since failure to react to catastrophe is exactly what you'd expect from people who believe that government is the problem and try to weaken it whenever they can (except where they can loot it).

"New Orleans filling up like a bowl." Remember what Grover Norquist said? He said he wants to make government so small he can drown it in a bathtub. Well, under Bush we have a government that's large in size, but puny in performance—so I bet that's good enough for Grover.

"New Orleans filling up like a bowl." Yes, Norquist, Bush, and thirty years of Republican governance have succeeded. They've won. They finally drowned the government.

Republican governance drowned in the "bowl" of New Orleans. Too hollowed out, too puny, to function. Republican governance drowned in the bowl of New Orleans, along with thousands of American dead abandoned by a government that was too hollowed out, too puny, too conflicted, too politicized, too ideological, and too in denial to rescue them.

You put people in charge of the government who want to drown it, sooner or later it's going to drown.

Now it has. It's going to up to the American people to decide whether a drowned government is the kind of government they want.

I'm betting Americans don't want a drowned government. And it's going to be up to what remains of the Democratic party to find a spine and fight and win on their behalf.

And if the Dems don't?

No more water. The fire next time.

UPDATE Thanks to The Daou Report for the link.

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