It is becoming increasingly clear that I am simply out of touch with the vast majority of the American public. I really am. I just guess I have different expectations for what government can and can’t do, and what government should do.
I am sitting here listening to a CNN reporter (Miles O’brien) sitting there arguing with Haley Barbour that the federal government didn’t do enough to prepare for the storm. Haley Barbour pointed out that Katrina was a category 1 hurricane when it hit Florida, Miles interrupted him, and stated that the Pentagon failed to pre-position enough amphibious vehicles, helicopters, etc. In short- the disaster is several days old, and apparently the relief efforts are a failure according to the prevailing opinions in the. Soledad O’Brien is harping at Michael Chertoff because cell phone lines are down. Seriously.
And I guess I just don’t get it. I look at what has been done, and what has happened, and I am shocked the death toll is not higher. The entire coastline from New Orleans to 150 miles+ eastward was wiped out. Wiped out. Storms knocked out power, flooded cities, knocked down trees, caused flooding dozens of miles inland. The entire city of New Orleans is under water. Large parts of the country simply no longer exist as they did a week ago, and to make this even more frustrating, the same people claiming not enough is being done are the ones who keep drilling home how big this disaster is.
The size and the scope of this thing are amazing- mind boggling. This is the largest natural disaster I have ever seen in the United States, and somehow, people just expect everything to be fixed. No acknowledgement of the difficulty and the chaos. No understanding that it just takes a while (no matter what is pre-positioned) to get to some places and get these types of operations up and running.
Christ- when it snows heavily here in WV, it sometimes takes 3-4 days to get the hollows plowed so people can get in and out and get food. People go days without power. From snow. Snow. Which is a touch more predictable than the a category 4-5 hurricane. In fact, I am going to go out on a limb and predict that West Virginia will get hit with snow numerous times from December-March. Just a hunch.
So again, I guess I am just out of touch with the rest of America. I look at the unprecedented response, and I think it is amazing we are able to mobilize so much so quickly over such a large area. I am a little upset about the lack of preparedness by the local and state officials regarding the evacuation and levee in New Orelans, but for the rest of the response, I guess it is just too early for me to declare everything is a failure.
And before a couple of you knuckleheads accuse me of being a ‘Bush apologist,’ this isn’t about Bush. Well, for me it isn’t, but it is for the NY Times, the dKos, and a lot of Democrats. Personally, I am never going to vote for Bush again and have expressed enough supreme dissatisfaction with his choice of priorities over the past few years that my days of defending him are over. I will suspend my judgement until the post-mortem is written months from now.
This is about me looking at what I think are just completely unrealistic expectations for responses to disasters of this magnitude. In fact, if disaster were being defined today, the definition would no longer be “An occurrence causing widespread destruction and distress; a catastrophe.” Apparently, a disaster would now be defined as ‘a slight inconvenience that can be immediately overcome with adequate planning and really convincing speeches by political figureheads.’
From where I sit, it looks like the same people who think you can lose weight without diet and exercise are now in charge of defining what a disaster is and what the response should be. So there you have it- I am out of touch with the rest of you guys and gals.