Sunday, November 04, 2012

why Hurricane Sandy makes me sad

I mean "why Hurricane Sandy makes me sad" besides the human and economic cost of the storm. That was bad, of course, but plenty of other people, many of them personally effected, are writing about it so there is no need for me to chime in. Another thing is making me sad: the way that conservatives are talking about the "failure" of the federal government in responding to the storm.

I understand, of course. It's a hard temptation to resist, comparing Sandy to Katrina, with all of the blatant hypocrisy from the media and entertainment industry. Katrina was George Bush's disaster which --according to the narrative-- showed that George Bush, who successfully defended us from a well-organized terrorist threat for seven years, was somehow incompetent because FEMA did not do a perfect job at stepping in and making up for all of the dismal failures of state and local government disaster response after Hurricane Katrina.

Today, FEMA is having the same problems with Hurricane Sandy. New York state and city have badly failed to deal with Hurricane Sandy and FEMA isn't ready to make up for that failure. With a presidential election less than a week away and a Democrat president, Republicans would obviously like to take advantage of that Democrat-created narrative of blaming the president for failures of state and local governments after a disaster. It has a pleasing irony in addition to being --potentially-- politically effective.

But in the process, I'm afraid that Republicans are committing themselves too much to new duties and new powers for the federal government. I'm afraid that if they are not careful, they will find it hard to argue against measures that would once again try to move power and responsibilities back to the states and local governments where it belongs.

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