01 September 2008
As I looked this morning at the New Orleans Times-Picayune website, a feeling of relief came over me: while Hurricane Gustav has apparently made landfall west of New Orleans, it was not the fierce category four or five that was predicted yesterday and the day before. While water has gone over the Industrial Canal flood wall that is near the upper ninth ward of New Orleans, it has not collapsed. Local officials are breathing a temporary sigh of relief. I am too. http://www.nola.com/hurricane/index.ssf/2008/09/report_water_coming_over_indus.html
But fear not. In this election year, unlike 2005, the Republican response was swift and true: no party today in MSP. What kind of picture would it have been if the Republican fat-cats and "social conservatives" had been seen in split-screen partying while New Orleans lay vacant or under water, again, for the second time in three years? Not a good one. Though I am by nature a political animal, which is to say that I can be impolitic at times, even I would not wish yet another horrific biblical-scale disaster on anyone just for cheap political theater. Not me. Instead, I see some other lessons here that should be instructive, stemming from the notion that, in many circumstances, there's no chance to get it right a second time: BushCo had the chance to get it right the first time and, to put it mildly, didn't.
So the RNC will be put on hold. Mr. McCain and Ms. Von Schtupp, his running mate, will tour and feign interest in the lives of the truly poor on the Gulf Coast, undoubtedly chaperoned by Cindy McCain spying from her Learjet and the Predator Drone she bought for this purpose from Northrop Grumman. Though it was unreported by any major news organization, I have it on good authority from a reliable source that will remain nameless that the foregoing purchase was a condition of Mrs. McCain allowing frisky Johnny to be alone and within 10 feet of Ms. Von Schtupp and therefore allowing her to be his running mate.
When the hurricane is over, the McCain/Von Schtupp juggernaut can go back to situation normal. That is to say, they will resume the comforting predictability of what this country has come to know over the past eight years: talking a good game, feigning interest, and going back to business as usual. The ownership society will go back to work: when the chips are down, you're on your own.
While storm patterns are unpredictable, government response to disaster has to get it right the first time. This is the lesson for the country. We cannot afford another troupe of Bowery Boys (accompanied by Ms. Von Schtupp for entertainment and comfort) to come to power in this country to run a great experiment at the cost of the lives and fortunes of our countrymen and women who have the right to rely upon their government to get it right the first time. As is proven by Hurrricane Katrina, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Thank God the Bushies, McCain and Von Schtupp will not have the chance to show the country what they cannot do.