Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Deluge self discovery

I've been pondering this whole epidemic of politicizing the aftermath of Katrina and just keep rediscovering the sage advice I never absorbed. The first realization is a study in accountability. Immediately after Katrina packed her bags and left town, there were 2 distinct reactions. These aren't in any specific order just the way I remember them.
The first came from Haley Barbour, who took a no-nonsense approach to reacting and rebuilding Mississippi. He started by letting any potential looters know that they would be in a world of hurt should they act on their impulse. In his own words, "To me looting is about the equivalent of grave robbing," he said. "We're not going to stand for it." Barbour had a plan, acted on it, and minimized the loss of lives for his state. That doesn't mean that he did everything right, but he has certainly fared much better than Ray Nagin and Gov. Blanco over in Louisiana. These two illustrate the second reaction that we've seen. They failed to live up to their respective disaster plans (Hundreds of idle school buses ruined in a parking lot, and failing to ask for Fed help are just 2 examples) and attempted to cover their tracks by pointing a finger at the federal government. Well as it turns out, Nagin and Blanco have since had their bluffs called and will likely (but not definitely) lose their jobs in the next elections as a result. All they had to do was be accountable for their own inaction and people would likely be somewhat more sympathetic to them. To look at Barbour he completely wiped out any need for accountability by springing into action as soon as he could. He may still be open to criticism, but certainly not what's in store just west of Mississippi.
A large lesson in this, in some ways, is that you can't always sit around and wait for others to help, sometimes you have to help yourself, and unfortunately in this case it cost a lot of lives.


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