Topic: Couldn't be so...
What's With These People? Readers on the administration's response to the storm and flood…
I asked my email group if anyone have an answer to the question at the end of this item from Kevin Drum in the Washington Monthly. This was what Drum posted late on September 1 -
So the question posed is just that - "What's with these people?"
From Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis:
From Emma in Belgium (yes, she used to be Paris, and yes, she's Australian) -
Well, maybe the revolution start today, in New Orleans, with Bush being run out of town by the angry mobs - those mobs singing La Marseillaise (they do use a form of French down that way) -
Allons ! Enfants de la Patrie !
Le jour de gloire est arriv? !
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L'?tendard sanglant est lev? !
Aux armes, citoyens !
But that seems unlikely.
Emma replies - "Surely enough Americans will take to the streets now and demand that Bush be pushed?"
Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta: "Reminds me of a dream I had the other night; it was all about flying pigs."
Then Rick adds this:
Actually in the news Friday there was some evidence for Rick's contention.
Jeffrey Dubner here quotes the president saying this (linking to the actual White House transcript):
Dubner: "I never thought anybody could respond to a tragedy with something more inappropriate and out of touch than Michael Dukakis' rejoinder to the hypothetical rape and murder of his wife, but there you have it."
Then Dubner points to Ezra Klein's readers providing hypothetical historical counterparts:
Rick is not alone, it seems, and Rick has more comment:
From Bob Patterson, known to readers here as the World's Laziest Journalist:
Bob is referring to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco warning rioters and looters in New Orleans that National Guard troops are under her orders to "shoot and kill" to end the violence in the city. (CNN here and a spoof here: "Louisiana National Guardsmen were told they must first ask looters to see a receipt for any merchandise they might be floating down the street before shooting them. Training for Guardsmen would be provided by Wal-Mart greeters. 'If no receipt can be produced, they are to take ten steps backwards, and open fire.' Asked if this wouldn't give most looters a chance to swim away, Bush went on to the next question.) Police quitting? See this from the Associated Press wire: "New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday as corpses lay abandoned in street medians, fights and fires broke out, cops turned in their badges and the governor declared war on looters who have made the city a menacing landscape of disorder and fear."
Bob asks who is he supposed to believe. He knows the answer. He likes being a scattershot provocateur. He drifted from the original question.
Actually there is an answer to the original question. What's with these people?
It's in their approach to what government is supposed to do, even if it were more competent and informed than it seems to be this week.
Grover Norquist is clear - "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."
Clear enough. That blunt statement is not new. You will find that comment and more here, in The Nation, April 26, 2001. That was discussed in these pages here a year ago, but in regard to the debate about killing the Social Security program. Guess what? New Orleans is the bathtub. (Illustrated here.)
See Kevin Drum again - Ideology and Real Life -
He does note that some conservatives, like Andrew Sullivan disagree:
But there is the evidence to argue against that. As noted elsewhere, FEMA was reduced to one part of a larger department, Homeland Security, and lost its cabinet access, and then had its budget cut again and again. Is the Norquist governing ideology somehow not "real" conservatism?
That is quibbling about labels. Since the Reagan days of "government is evil" and "less is best" and all that, the country has moved steadily in that direction - buying into that governing ideology which posits, in its purist form, that we lose our personal freedom when we act as a community, that "individual responsibility" is the core virtue in a free society, and helping others causes great harm to them, by allowing those who are helped assume they are owed something and destroying their initiative. Who wants a nation of lazy, whining victims, telling you that you owe them something?
If that is so, then this is what you get. Sullivan sees a middle ground. Some things require a sense of community, and other things do not.
What's with these people? They see no middle ground, and only act when they are shamed into acting. And still they resent it.