Well, for giggles this morning, I decided to follow-up on a diary I did last week on what the editorial columnists are saying about the Katrina response and see where we stand today.
It's still getting plenty of coverage, but in my unstudied opinion, the tone, while still critical, has been tempered. I don't know if that's good or not - but I know this: This Administration has gone, for me, from annoying and wrong to dangerous and deadly. That changes the entire playing field. If you accept the idea that we will be stuck with them for another 3+ years, then it becomes imperative that certain corrections be made to help ensure each of our safety. The editorial pages are, for me, a barometer of pressure being placed on the Administration. The more the pressure is applied, the more likely the Administration will make some substantive changes that will help me be safer.
You may disagree with that premise, but that's why I scan the editorials so assiduously. So, here it is - today's roundup of columns and LTEs. You be the judge.
The Boston Globe - FEMA's Focus
Chertoff wants to eliminate the FEMA role in disaster prevention and have a separate office do its liaison work with state and local governments. This reorganization, planned before the hurricane struck, is supposed to focus FEMA on its core mission: responding to disasters. Elimination of powers diminishes agencies, however, not strengthens them.
The Boston Globe LTEs:
The New York Times - No Strangers to the Blues
The tragedy in New Orleans did not occur in a vacuum. There is no way, even in the face of a storm as violent as Katrina, that a great American city should have been reduced to little more than a sewage pit overnight.
The monumental failure of the federal government to respond immediately and effectively to the catastrophe that resulted from Hurricane Katrina was preceded by many years in which the people of New Orleans (especially its poorest residents) were shamefully neglected by all levels of government.
New York Times LTEs:
The Washington Post - Mr. Bush's Storm
PRESIDENT BUSH'S response to Hurricane Katrina has been, to put it kindly, faltering. He has fallen short both rhetorically and substantively. The rhetorical failure is less important but perhaps more surprising for a politician with his strong communications skills. One of the highlights of Mr. Bush's presidency, and one of the keys to his reelection, was his ability to rally a country stunned by the Sept. 11 attacks -- perhaps most vividly in his visit to the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center. President Bill Clinton rose to an earlier challenge after the Oklahoma City bombing, using the bully pulpit of the presidency to reassure and console the nation.
Washington Post LTEs:
The Chicago Tribune - When Governments Fail Citizens
The initial federal response, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was a tangle of red tape. It wasn't until several days after the flooding that the cavalry arrived: 6,500 National Guard troops. Relief supplies followed, order was restored and an evacuation proceeded.
Once the flood survivors are stabilized, Americans will demand that officials at all levels of government sort out what went so horrendously wrong. The president and Congress have vowed to investigate. One logical tool: an independent, bipartisan panel, like the 9/11 Commission, to autopsy these failings and prescribe remedies for the future.
Chicago Tribune LTEs:
The Dallas Morning News - Is America Prepared? Leadership Was Lacking at Every Level of Crisis
If the terror attacks of 9-11 redefined the politics of disaster planning, then the emergency response to Katrina's wrath does little to answer the question the nation posed four years ago:
Is America really prepared to respond to a catastrophic terrorist attack on our soil?
The Los Angeles Times - It's Time for Action, Not Words
With "TURF WARS" consuming Louisiana and federal officials over who should have responded to what and when, the Times-Picayune of New Orleans on Wednesday gave the most clear-cut advice to the bureaucrats: Enough.
In an angry editorial, the Times-Picayune wrote that the feds, who accused local officials of hampering relief efforts by protecting their state's home "turf," are the ones engaging in an "awfully convenient dodge" of accountability. Further, establishing a federal commission to investigate the disaster response may help in the long run, the editorial said, but it "won't address what ought to be everyone's immediate priority: getting New Orleanians to safety and ... the reconstruction underway."
Los Angeles Times LTEs:
The Seattle Post Intelligencer - Gulf Coast is Apocalypse Now
There is a difference between politics and governance. The Bush administration is very, very good at politics, and the business of making itself look good. The administration is far less able at governance, the business of doing a good job. The distinction has been brought into sharp relief by the apocalyptic events in New Orleans, where failures in governance would not be spun away.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer LTEs:
Have at it, folks - should we all be coordinating an LTE campaign with stronger language and rhetoric?