Saturday, September 03, 2005

Shock and shame: Outrage in the wake of Katrina

Shock, shame, and a lot of anger. I'm not sure how much of it is justifiable, nor where the blame (if any) should be laid, but the national reaction to Katrina and its aftermath is rapidly turning to outrage, much of it directed at the federal government, some of it more directly at President Bush and his administration.

At the Times, Maureen Dowd weighs in with typically partisan (anti-Bush) zeal, but Krugman's analysis is more measured:

At a fundamental level, I'd argue, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures. And they never, ever ask for shared sacrifice.

Yesterday Mr. Bush made an utterly fantastic claim: that nobody expected the breach of the levees. In fact, there had been repeated warnings about exactly that risk.

So America, once famous for its can-do attitude, now has a can't-do government that makes excuses instead of doing its job. And while it makes those excuses, Americans are dying.

I don't mean to politicize the relief efforts, nor to assign blame along partisan lines, nor even to support such politicization and partisanship from others, but, as the evacuation continues and the death toll rises, with no end yet in sight, it is indeed time to start asking the hard questions and, ultimately, demanding accountability.

See also The Times-Picayune's editorial response to federal support/aid (or the lack thereof).

Still, I tend to think that all the outrage should, for the moment, be kept in check. As Colbert King puts it so well in his column in today's Post, "I'd rather focus on the groups that are rallying to help the victims":

And outrage? It has its place. For that there are targets galore stretching from the New Orleans region to Washington. There will be plenty of time for fault-finding -- a task that we in Washington do oh so well. But not now. This is a time for action.

Katrina is a test for the nation, a critical examination for us all, public and private. That is unless you're inclined to sit this one out in the armchair and second-guess.

United we stand, divided we fall. Those who are suffering in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast need our help, not our bickering.

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