Monday, September 19, 2005

Been A While...

It's been a while since I posted here. No particular reason, just didn't hear the muse.

Are we witnessing a watershed event in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? I think the jury's still out, though there is some basis for thinking it might be true this time. Of course, it's hard not to be gun-shy, given how many times the right-wing has given cause for rejection. Tax cuts for the rich. Failure to re-build ground zero. Not really caring about catching Bin Ladn. Running huge budget deficits. Ignoring the UN. Invading a country that posed no threat to us or others. Spurning our allies. Destroying any chance of a good outcome in Iraq. Placing ideology above every other consideration. So, it's easy to see how adding one more to this list is going to make a difference.

And indeed it may not. This list may yet have room to grow, even though it seems obvious that the Right's grip on power seems aberrational.

Katrina has caused many voters to stop and think, without question. The initial news reporting was devastating -- local officials decrying the lack of support from the federal government, actually begging on-air for help. The WH spin machine finally sprung into action, laying the feds' failure as part of a broader governmental failure that knew no party ideology. (An effort reminiscent of blaming the intelligence for the failure to find WMD's in Iraq: it's not that we messed up, it's more that our mess up was caused by other people's failings. )

The good news here is that for years liberals have been saying that the Right does not care about government. The Right has been largely in agreement with this, preaching the gospel that the government is nothing more than a leach on the pocketbooks of decent hardworking people.

Katrina threw into high-relief the proper role of government as a life saver. And the dollar costs of the disaster -- a few billion in levees, etc. -- seem trivial compared to what we're spending in Iraq. It's hard to escape the conclusion that we're far more committed to rebuilding in the Middle East than we are in the Gulf.

The biggest impact of this on politics may well be the effect on the press. A lot of news people got an education that what the politicians say is happening and what is actually happening may not be the same. I think, sadly, for a lot of news people, the experience of seeing for themselves what was happening, and then having Bush lackeys say that what they saw happening wasn't happening, turned on a light which is not easily shut off. I think from here on out the press' credulity won't be quite so freely given, which cannot but lead to a better outcome in politics for Americans.

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