Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Challenging the Biggest Myths - They Simply Don't Hold Up


Before Katrina there were several other hurricanes. Democrats and the media (excuse the redundancy) started asking whether global warming was causing these hurricanes and whether this was a result of "Bush's environmental policies." They were looking for any reason to "blame Bush" and Katrina gave them their chance. The glee of some of these people in the face of a national disaster was sickening, but so was the lack of any Republican response.

Now, I'm not saying that there aren't serious problems with bureaucracy which result in a lack of priority with regard to saving human lives and that both parties have come to embrace this dangerous absurdity, though in fairness Democrats call this bureaucratic garbage prime rib while Republicans only consider it french toast.

But take the facts of Katrina at hand. Every other disaster of this kind has been handled first by state agencies with federal management coming in well after. In fact, the response to Katrina was the fastest FEMA had ever acted. And that would still be totally inexcusable were it not for the fact that the now former Democratic Governor of Louisiana herself had requested a 48 hour delay to give state troops time to act before FEMA arrived, something which was only mentioned by the media 6 months later and then only in passing.

Furthermore, contrary to popular opinion, FEMA Director Mike Brown, was far from unqualified. Aside from a stellar career as a lawyer, he was possibly the most qualified person to assume the position of FEMA Director, having served as Deputy Director for years beforehand. He may have been horrendous in front of the camera, while trying to do media interviews in between running from site to site with little sleep (something he should have never been allowed to do - just one example of the GOP's PR problems), but referring to him as an Arabian Horse Trader would be the same as portraying Bill Bradley as an unqualified basketball player or defining anyone else by what their side hobbies happen to be.

The problem is that instead of mentioning any of this the President apologized, a noble act, one that history will view as such, but one that should have been coupled with criticism of Democratic leaders who sought to make politics out of a natural disaster. At the very least, other Republicans should have pointed out the real facts of the case. Instead they did nothing to counter the prevailing and largely false sentiments.

While apologies may have worked for Clinton, who the media fawned over, as he was of their party, apologies from this president are used as fodder to tear him apart. The media could hardly believe their good fortune and so the skewing began. Pretty soon they were conjuring up pictures of this being the worst response ever, even slower than the "Federal Response" of 1906 (when San Francisco had a large military population who of course, were on site at the time of the quake - no Federal Troops were actually "sent"). And the more the GOP was unable to respond, the more the media skewed the situation.


Well this attitude started then and didn't let up. In fact, with the exception of Newt Gingrich and some notable others, it continued right through to election day. You'd think our lack of response to the media's outright distortions of Katrina would have taught the party something about Iraq. One would have thought that, and one would be wrong.

In media interview after media interview, Congressional Republicans refused to talk about the issue for an entire year before the midterms. All that did was cement the impression that they were wrong.

Had they just stated the simple facts, that Saddam had 12 years to comply with resolution after resolution, that President Bush had himself given Saddam over a year to response since the first threat of military action, that all that Saddam had to do was allow full military inspections and that failure to act would have made our threat of action obsolete in other areas (forever foregoing any hope that diplomacy could work with Iran, North Korea or anywhere else not scared stiff by what would have been a track record of empty words).

Add to that the true, simple and plain fact that UN weapons reports documented each weapon that Saddam had in '91 and showed that only small amount that had been destroyed - showing that what had until then been the world's fourth largest army still had plenty of weapons. That while no nukes had been found, enough sarin, VX and other gas weapons had been found, as had 500 tons of unenriched uranium, 1.8 of which had been enriched according to the New York Times.

Add to that the inhumanity of the sanctions before the war, which only hurt the civilian population while doing nothing to Saddam and that were truly the cause of anti-Western sentiment, and you might have had Democrats yelling about why Bush hadn't go in sooner and gave Saddam so many warnings, while all that time gave Saddam a chance to hide gas weapons and other artillery that were clearly documented by the UN, that hadn't been destroyed, and that according to many intelligence specialists were now in Syria or Libya (of course the President was right to allow some time for diplomacy, but you get my point).

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