We’ve been having this debate around the virtual water cooler here in the digital garret where Pensito Review is produced. Here’s a take from the inimitable James Wolcott:
Over at DailyKos, Armando is cautioning liberal lefties to holster the fickle fingers of blame.
“[T]his is not a time for politics — not only for moral and ethical reasons, but for political ones as well. That is, politics itself mandates that these days not be political.”
Stop right there. First of all, “politics” mandates nothing. It’s an abstract noun. It’s like beginning a sentence “Morality dictates that…” Morality dictates nothing. It’s how people interpret morality, and how they apply it in certain situations which evolve over time. Politics are people, and what they make of their political situation, and when the realities of their lives demand that the political and economic circumstances of their lives change. It isn’t something to put on a shelf and used only when the climate of opinion permits.
Armando again: “Yes Bush and his administration have much to answer for. But what of the government of the State of Louisiana? The government of the City of New Orleans? I for one believe all have to answer for this. But not now. Maybe next week. But not today.”
I don’t mean to pick on Armando, but has he learned nothing under Bush? There is no “next week” when it comes to getting answers and fixing accountability for failure under this president. Next week never comes.
Look at 9/11. There were tough questions about the breakdown of communications at Ground Zero, the lateness in scrambling fighter jets once the hijacked planes were heading toward NY and DC, Bush’s strange behavior on that day, etc., and in the aftermath those questions were considered inappropriate, “divisive.” We needed to grieve first, heal; and then the tough questions could be raised.
But they weren’t. As months passed, the focus was on overthrowing the Taliban and avenging 9/11, and tough questions were taken off the table as the drumbeat was about the Nation Moving Forward. The media fell into zombie lockstep behind the invigorated Bush agenda. It took the 9/11 widows and esp the “Jersey Girls” to push and shame the Congress, the media, and the administration into launching a proper investigation, otherwise it would have all slid into the memory hole apart from the iconic images of the smoking towers before their collapse.
No, this is the time for politics, none better, because I can tell you just from being out of NY a few days that a lot of people in this country are shocked and sobered by New Orleans, but they’re also worried and pissed off. They’re making the connection between the money, manpower, and resources expended in Iraq and how raggedy-ass the rescue effort has been in the Gulf. If you don’t say it now when people’s nerves are raw and they’re paying full attention, it’ll be too late once the waters receded and the media-emoting “healing process” begins.
I suspect you’ll be hearing from my fraternal twin/first cousin Trish with a counter view soon…