A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four years ago this morning. . .

. . .was one of the most fateful days in the history of our republic. It brought together a nation of people still bitterly divided over an election that many insist to this day was stolen by its President. We all came together in the days following the terrorist atrocity because we knew we would need one another to get through a time of terrible trauma and loss. But for a few notable exceptions, most public figures held back from levelling criticism against one another, choosing instead to rally around the people of New York, their mayor, and our national leaders.

So much for those days. Here on the marking of the fourth year since that deadly attack at the hands of religious fanatics, we find ourselves in a situation where the people have reacted in precisely the opposite way to a time of crisis that is of considerably greater magnitude and will have a deeper impact on the nation as a whole, where one of our major metropolitan cities is in a state of complete destruction. At first, it appeared that the death toll would be of a magnitude that would boggle our minds and leave us grasping for a sense of perspective as the final numbers came in. Fortunately, and by the grace of God, it appears that the number won't be nearly as high as originally predicted.

And, just as the original estimates of deaths were extremely high, so was the degree of urgency to affix the blame for them on the president and his administration. The detractors were quick to make the case that, had FEMA properly managed this disaster, the loss of life could have been avoided. But, since federal agencies weren't as quick to respond, they asked, how many thousands died unnecessarily? Well, if the figures come out as low as the trend seems to indicate, it appears that not very many, if any at all, died as a result of anything not done at the federal level. One assumes that the majority of deaths occurred in the early stages of the flooding, before people could reach higher ground. At that point, there hadn't been time to deploy troops or FEMA into the area, no matter how well-oiled a machine the bureaucracy might have been.

Those who were so quick to seek recrimination against the administration for its response are about to get an object lesson in just why it is that people are supposed to band together in the aftermath of disaster, and wait for cooler heads to come to the fore prior to kicking ass and taking names. Those who were so angry with the president for his supposed culpability in the deaths of untold thousands will likely now find themselves without the untold thousands of deaths to hang around his neck. In fact, there's a good chance that they will at some point be forced to dine on a rather healthy serving of crow, as the truth of what could have been done, and by whom it should have been done, becomes more evident. It appears to me that, in the coming months, there will be much talk among the Democrats of a classic overreach. The Democratic party in Louisiana might well want to prepare for some very lean days in the future, when the breathtaking ineptitude of its leadership in the state becomes more apparent.

While this may appear to be good news in a purely partisan sense, it certainly is nothing to cheer in terms of what it says about the discourse among our nation's leadership at every level. The utter unwillingness to accept responsibility for poor decisions, combined with the craven urgency to find fault at the level furthest removed from the one that is ultimately responsible for the safety of citizens, bodes ill for our nation when the next crisis inevitably comes along. When the Big One finally hits California, we could very well see a repeat of what we've witnessed over the past two weeks -- only on a much larger scale. That is, assuming state and local officials perform as abysmally as those of Louisiana when faced with disaster. One thing's for sure: The low watermark has been established. Californians would have to struggle mightily to foul things up to the extent that Louisiana and her leaders have. And, even if they manage to do that, one wonders if people will be in as big of a rush to stack the bodies on the front lawn of the White House.

For all that hasn't gone well at the federal level in the wake of this disaster, the president can be thankful for one thing. That is, when the water recedes and the cleanup begins, he will not have to answer the question, "Why didn't the buses run?" Nagin and Blanco won't have that luxury, however.

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