Politics and Reconstruction; Cynicism and Ideology Dominate
Byline: Tony Blankley, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
It is sad evidence of the bitterness, intense partisanship and mindless ideology of our current politics, that President Bush's proposal for the reconstruction of New Orleans and the other devastated Gulf communities has been received with such thoughtless criticism across much of the political spectrum.
In the minutes and hours after the president's speech, famous journalists were criticizing the president for wearing a blue shirt ("it didn't set off well from the blue background") and the location of his speech ("picking a beauty spot when he was only yards from destruction was dishonest"). The sheer shallowness and vacuity of such observations at our first moment of serious, national consideration of one of America's worst calamities is breathtaking.
Worse, the pettiness of the president's loyal opposition - Sen. Harry Reid and other leading Democrats - holding press conferences before the speech in order to criticize what they had not yet even heard, further discredits their standing as serious statesmen.
In lonely and noble exception to such attitudes stands the article by Donna Brazile (a leading Democratic Party partisan and campaign manager of Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign) who thanked the president for his unprecedented support of New Orleans and the Gulf region and offered to work with him to make it a great success.
Some people will note as almost an excuse for her fine statement (in fact privately a couple of Democrats in town have already said to me) that she is from New Orleans - as if that excused her failure to viciously attack the president. Has it come to that in our political class? Are they completely unable to see a national obligation when it arises - and behave accordingly? It is manifestly impossible for Louisiana (and Mississippi) to handle their crises. They were two of the poorest states before the hurricane. Now they have lost much of their economic base. Good heavens, the entire economic activity of New Orleans has been extinguished for some unknown length of time.
We are one nation, one admittedly raucous family, and when a member of our family has been overwhelmed beyond any plausible ability to manage by itself, the rest of the family must unite to save it. Afterward, we can continue the bickering if we must.
On the conservative side, a certain ideological rigidity is on display. A conservative television host, among others, deplored the president's statement that historic racism had a role in poverty. Now, I fully share (and have written on in the last week) the conservative view that persistent poverty in the inner cities is substantially caused by government welfare programs that breed dependency - not by the remnants of racism in our society. …