Krugman on Romney’s FEMA gaffe:
So let me just take a moment to flag an issue others have been writing about: the weird Republican obsession with killing FEMA. Kevin Drum has the goods: they just keep doing it. George Bush the elder turned the agency into a dumping ground for hacks, with bad results; Clinton revived the agency; Bush the younger ruined it again; Obama revived it again; and Romney — with everyone still remembering Brownie and Katrina! — said that he wants to block-grant and privatize it. (And as far as I can tell, even TV news isn’t letting him Etch-A-Sketch the comment away).
There’s something pathological here. It’s really hard to think of a public service less likely to be suitable for privatization, and given the massive inequality of impacts by state, it really really isn’t block-grantable. Does the right somehow imagine that only Those People need disaster relief? Is the whole idea of helping people as opposed to hurting them just anathema?
It’s a bit of a mystery, calling more for psychological inquiry than policy analysis. But something is going on here.
Really, is the idea of killing FEMA any weirder than clamoring for the gold standard? I mean, the whole GOP platform is basically pathological.
Krugman is certainly right that part of it is the idea that somehow disasters only strike “Those People” — you just have to look at how the GOP talks about New Orleans — but the FEMA obsession is also part of the Black Helicopter/UN paranoia among rightwingers. In their minds, FEMA is part of the jackbooted thug mafia that is only, just barely being kept in check because Real Americans are exercising their Second Amendment rights to prevent tyranny.
When Romney talked about killing FEMA it wasn’t because he really thought the states could or should do it, nor did he think the private sector could or should. When Romney went after FEMA in the primary debates, it was all about letting GOP voters know that he sees the Black Helicopters too.