September 05, 2005

Daily Kos: Plan to Politicize Hurricane Katrina

Need any proof that the Democrats plan to exploit and politicize Hurricane Katrina? The Daily Kos happily obliges.
The answer is found in all of these comments, and it is simple: a multi-pronged, multi-level strategy. What you do depends on who you are and where you are.

1. Everyone, everywhere. Find a way to help: donate money, donate supplies, open your home. whatever you can do. I read more than one poll yesterday where 40% or more had yet to do anything. If we care as much as we say we care, the donation rate among Dems and progressives must be 100%.

2. Everyday folks, inside the disaster: Share your stories, good and bad. All that is needed is the truth. If, as Haley Barbour said, the situation on the ground in Mississippi is much better than NO, we should hear that. If you were at a checkpoint and they turned away relief supplies, we should know that, too. There is nothing more powerful than first-person. (I started to put something like “Take care of yourself” at the top of this section, but everything I wrote sounded trite. In no way do I mean to imply that people affected by this tragedy should first think of politics; their first task, and our first wish, is for them to be safe and cared for. But, the country still needs to hear from them, especially if there is beginning to be a media blackout.)

3. Everyday folks, outside the disaster: Continue to raise hell. Write LTEs, contact your reps. Be direct, be concise, be respectful, but also be up front about your anger and disgust. Be sure to ask your reps, when are THEY going to speak out? As one state senator told me, “I’ve often wanted to speak out, but based on the lack of communications from my constitutients, I figured no one had my back.” Let them know we have their back.

4. Mid-level politicians: Keep the buzz growing. Begin to call for action, change, investigations. When interviewed, raise the tough questions. Start some buzz in the halls of power, even with your Repub counterparts. Focus on “competence” and “lack of national security.” And, be sure to ask the local leaders in the areas you represent, how well are WE prepared, and how do we feel about counting on FEMA after this?

5. Top-level politicians: Wait for the moment, then strike. Focus for now on the relief effort, and be quiet for now on the political ramifications. Give the nation’s anger a little more time to build. Hold back, hold on, hold it, hold it — then in one large, joint press conference (I can see Reid, Pelosi, Nagin, Blanco, and about twenty more), call for the resignation of Chertoff and Brown, and the censure of the President by Congress. List the reasons (should be a fairly hard-hitting list) and have a handout with sourcing and documentation.

If this builds like I think it might, and if we follow the steps above, it could be a political Perfect Storm.
Hat Tip: Little Green Footballs.

This is absolutely disgusting. Thousands of people have likely died from Katrina and the Democrats over at the Daily Kos focus on the political opportunity.

It looks like Hillary Clinton has already jumped to step 5. From the New York Daily News:
WASHINGTON - With many blaming the growing scope of Katrina's devastation on the Bush administration, Sen. Hillary Clinton called yesterday for a 9/11-style probe into how the federal government responded to the crisis.

"It has become increasingly evident that our nation was not prepared," Clinton (D-N.Y.) said in a letter to Bush asking him to set up a "Katrina Commission."

"The slow pace of relief efforts in the face of a mounting death toll ... seems to confirm that our ability to respond to cataclysmic disasters has not been adequately addressed," she said.
I wouldn't necessarily disagree with Hillary - clearly governmental efforts were less than adequate. Certainly, we need to learn from our mistakes as to how we are going to handle future incidents in the future. However, why don't we at least wait until we have rescued those that are still in peril and bury our dead? Wouldn't it make more sense to have FEMA focusing on New Orleans and Mississippi rather than congressional hearings??

Moreover, the cynic in me knows exactly what the "hearings" will degenerate into. After all, politicians will be involved. The Democrats will use the hearings to somehow present evidence that George Bush is to blame for the hurricane or, at the very least, for the slow response. The Democrats will portray the Republican controlled federal government as racist and incompetent (the race baiting will be too much to resist - the Democrats are already focusing on the fact that the majority of those that did not evacuate from New Orleans were black). The Republicans will likely spend the hearings defending George Bush by focusing most of the blame on the local politicians and their failure to follow Bush's instructions to evacuate New Orleans early (while clearly the local politicians failed miserably and should bear the lion's share of any "blame", this will tend to deflect discussion from the federal government, who could have performed better).

Do we need hearings? Possibly so, but is there any way to avoid the political posturing and partisan bickering? If we have hearings, they should focus on what we can do better as opposed to who is to blame. Put simply, we need to get out of the blame culture and focus on resolving our problems. I am not naive enough to think that will ever occur....
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