Friday, September 02, 2005

Beaten With The Club They Gave Their Enemies.

While driving in, I heard Bill Bennett carping about how the media was begging Haley Barbour to slag Dubya over disaster relief and thought someone was being a little defensive in the face of some serious failure on the part of the Feds.

Then I heard Dubya's feeble announcement from yesterday when turned the tag-team of Poppy & Bubba loose to beg for money - didn't we all give at the office, seems it went to buy pork? - and make another faint promise that help was on the way as if people weren't dying NOW!!! When you're dying of thirst and reporters are waking up near dead people to tell the tale, promises don't mean sh*t, Dubya!!!

Then I hit the office and see this Jonah Goldberg post on The Corner on National Review Online and it sums up the dire political situation Team Dubya and the Stupid Party are in.

The VWRC will mobilize to defend against the scurlious liars like Rhodes, Kennedy, Moore, Sheehan, Blumenthal, etc. but THEY WILL NOT PROTECT THEM FROM THE CLEAR FAILURES THAT ARE MULTIPLYING!!!

As I think about what the finger-pointers are likely to say in the aftermath of all this it's hard not to credit some of their complaints. For years, Democrats complained that we needed to spend more on "first-responders." I took this for what it often was: an attempt to pad municipal budgets with pork. But, one must concede it wasn't entirely about that either. And while it's likely this disaster would have presented many if not most of the challenges we're seeing this week, even if all that money had been spent as the Democrats wanted, it remains hard to dispute that it would have been better spent than much of the garbage in recent budgets.

And that's the point: The choice isn't between a lean, fiscally responsible, Republican budget and a porcine Democratic budget which included money for first responders. The Republican Congress has proven to be just about as disgusting in its spending as a Democratic Congress might have been. Sure, perhaps Democrats would have spent a bit more, but Republicans are supposed to be against bloated government and the stealing of tax dollars for personal projects and missions. So whatever pennies we've hypothetically saved with Republicans, their hypocrisy and betrayal of principle more than compensates.

So the question is, would the money have been better spent if the Republicans hadn't gotten their way? And, though it sickens me to say so, that is at best an open question. I have the utmost faith in the kleptocratic and dysfunctional governments of New Orleans and Louisiana to waste and steal money. But, we were supposed to be preparing --at the national level -- for a major terrorist attack for the last four years. I just don't see much evidence of that preparation. Congress re-assembled lickity-split to deal with Terri Schiavo -- a decision that didn't and does not bother me the way it bothers some. But however you define the issues involved in that case, in terms of real human suffering they are very hard to stack-up against what's happened in New Orleans. Congress should have convened yesterday and rescinded the highway bill. It should have broken-open the farm bill like a piƱata and reallocated the monies therein.

For supporters of the war, this spectacle is going to be particularly hard to accomodate because it is in the interests of the political classes to keep their pork and it is in the interests of the antiwar left to frame this as a choice between Baghdad and New Orleans. That should not be the choice. The choice should be between the highway bill, ag subsidies and the like. The Don Young Highway should at least be renamed to the "Go Suck Eggs New Orleans Highway."

The next post was from Andrew Stuttaford and read:

Dead right, Jonah, and, when it comes to the question of the wasted money, the other ugly question (and one that NR has asked before) concerns the responsibility of the President who failed to veto any of this spending.

That was followed by:

should be asked about that highway bill. A senator who voted against it (Cornyn?--from Texas, a Bushman, he has the clout) should tell his colleagues he will make it an issue if they don't get it together to ditch it.

No one is going to ask about the highway bill and the politicians are far to greedy to give up the pork - they'll just add this to the national tab, but one thing you can count on the media to harp on is: Why didn't Dubya stop the hurricane and immediately fix everything. Sure, it's an unfair reach, but even if you roll the questions back to reasonable limits - What's the frigging hold-up in dropping off water from choppers? - there's plenty of 'splaining to do on the part of Team Dubya.

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