Thursday, September 08, 2005

This Is Not a Game

Yesterday the main talking point, from President Bush to his subordinates, was simple: this isn't the time to play the "blame game," let's focus on recovery and point fingers later.

The Chicago Tribune blasts this apart in a great editorial this morning.

The Trib finds the choice facing the Bush administration
is simple: Play or lose.

And make no mistake. Despite the high-level demurrals out of Washington (President Bush and House Speaker Dennis Hastert are among those who have clucked reproachfully about "the blame game" in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina), Republican spinners are playing with gusto, arguing in every conceivable forum that much of the misery and death on the Gulf Coast in the last 10 days is the fault of inept state and local officials.

And then the Trib hits the most important point: this is not a game.

This, of course, is an effort to counter critics of the pokey, discombobulated, ragingly obtuse federal response when Katrina turned into one of the nation's worst natural disasters.

Using the therapy-speak term "blame game" as if this were a psychodrama and not a scandal trivializes a dispute that's not only unavoidable, but also necessary and even helpful.

Did the expressions of outrage and frustration directed at Washington by New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, local emergency management director Terry Ebbert and many commentators speed relief efforts and save lives?

We may never know. But it's hard to believe that the massive infusion of relief supplies and personnel that hit New Orleans Friday wasn't at least partly an effort at damage control by those badly stung by bitter accusations that they weren't doing enough.

President Bush, you can show the American people you get this is not a game. This is a matter of life and death. For the last ten days, the incompetent federal response has let death win out more times than it had to. The person most responsible for this mortal bungling is FEMA director Michael Brown.

Show us you get it and fire Brown now.


Post a Comment

<< Home