Saturday, September 10, 2005

OBSERVATION: Dem blame game could backfire

Abraham Lincoln wisely noted that “you may fool all of the people some of the time; and some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.” His observation is pertinent today in the political aftermath of Katrina.

Americans may like accountability, but we have a sense of fair play that can make” piling on" a perilous ploy. Even if the crass and highly partisan finger pointing in the direction of the White House prevails at the moment, the future view, away from media driven hysteria, may backfire on the contemporary merchants of blame. While Dems are stampeding the public to an indictment of George Bush, their outcries for investigations may serve the President's interest better than their own. Not only do I suspect the blame Bush strategy will not work in the long run, I think there are already signs of the tide turning.

Widely reported polls show that a significant majority of the public do not think the Prez did a good job in responding to Katrina. Even more significantly, and less reported, the polls place Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin not far behind Bush in negative public opinion.

The New Orleans mayor is already starting to look like loose cannon with a large aperture. It appears his predicted death toll and his day-to-day Chicken Little screeching was more hysteria than the public utterances of a knowledgeable and responsible public official. You will recall is directive to go after looters instead of rescuing the stranded -- a directive he withdrew when the rational public gave him a collective "say what?" One may understand his tearful breakdown as he pleaded in unprofessional panic for help to rescue victims and his own reputation in a situation he screwed up big time. It is not so easy to cut him slack for his radio show appearance where he did his best imitation of a Chicago gang banger.

At times Governor Blanco seemed to live up to her name. It was if she was clueless to her role and responsibilities. Repeatedly she postponed life and death rescue decisions and responses to requests as if she was scheduling budget meetings. The I'll-get-back-to-you-on-that demeanor was also the subject of Nagin's rantings, although those criticisms were largely ignored by a press corps more interested in pinning the tail on George Bush's butt than reporting fairly.

Lower officials were must share considerable blame. Police abandoning their posts –imagine these sworn-to-serve-and-protect first responders ducking tail and running. Of course some of these cops were too busy looting to even change out of uniform. How about Black Democrat Congressman William Jefferson commandeering a military rescue vehicle for a personal tour and trip to his high-brow home to retrieve treasured possessions as people perished for lack of rescue? Is this racism, classism or just plain old self-centered disregard?

Then there is the bottom feeders -- the criminal element that went on a rampage of murder, rape and pillaging. Snipers shooting are rescue workers and vehicles. On the underside, New Orleans has always been known as a corrupt and dangerously criminal city. It is to be expected that those elements would have free reign when society's protectors are over burdened, absent, or gone over to the other side of the force.

George Bush has accepted responsibility for any failures in the FEDERAL response on his watch -- although most press reporting conceals the culpability of others by implying that is personally and maliciously responsible for EVERYTHING that went wrong. It is time for others to admit they made tragic mistakes, and that the response at the state and local levels was too little, too late, too bad.

While the momentary rush to judgment is weighed against Bush, events and less impassioned hind-sight investigations are very likely to shift the focus, and significant blame, on the deadly lapses of city and state officials.

No comments: