This isn't going to be a popular column so I may as well get straight to the point: if the flawed response to the unexpected and unprecedented natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina reflects poorly on our country, so does the unrelenting and unforgiving search for scapegoats, incompetents and culprits.
Sadly, going about the task of aiding our fellow citizens who have been affected by Katrina is hard work, while playing the blame game isn't. So it's no surprise that so many of the political class would rather blame someone else for a problem than do something constructive to solve it.
The trickle of finger pointing that I complained about last week has become a tsunami of truculent 'I-told-you-so' s. If the energy, wiliness and zeal politicians and chatterers are investing in the blame game went instead to the continuing — actually endless — relief challenges, we'd be getting more done. I mean that.
Instead, with New Orleans still soggy and displaced thousands in agony, Washington is moving on — to hearings, post-mortems and probably commissions. If that stuff worked, wouldn't, by definition, the response to Katrina have been more successful?
And that's the problem with Washington. Or, more specifically, with it's liberal Democratic politicians and interest groups. They care more about politics than the people who they claim to serve. How many of the people calling for investigations have actually made a trip to the Gulf Coast to see what's happening to the people there? How many have actually done anything to improve the lot of the displaced?
We're still smack dab in the middle of this crisis. Uprooted, devastated poor people are not helped by editorials insisting this calamity was caused by Bush's callousness to the poor, or Republican politicians berating Louisiana's Democratic officials, or administration officials defending some of the clear cut blunders or the House Minority Leader saying of President Bush, "Oblivious, in denial, dangerous."
Meyer does the "moderate" thing by being even-handed in his criticisms, but everyone knows which side is playing the blame game the hardest. Hint: it's the same side that will be damaged the most when a full post-mortem is done.