Monday, September 5, 2005

In defense of the blame game

Posted By on Mon, Sep 5, 2005 at 1:18 PM

A few points about the admonitions currently flying around to avoid "playing the blame game" with the federal government's allegedly dithering response to Hurricane Katrina. 1. If not now, when? The most common argument against assigning blame is that it's inappropriate to do so while the emergency is still ongoing; that there will be time enough to demand accountability later. Trouble is, that's the same argument we heard after 9/11 and the failure to find weapons of mass destruction (and other debunked rationales) after the Iraq war -- and four and two years later, respectively, there has been no accountability for those intelligence blunders. (In fact, there have been bird-flipping Medals of Freedom for a few of the blunderers.) If accountability is not dealt out now, it never will be -- in a few weeks the media will be back to fretting about Natalee Hollaway, Congress will still be in Republican hands with no burning impetus to investigate and the current pungent sense of urgency will have dissipated along with the flood waters.

2. It cuts both ways. If it's inappropriate to blame Bush, FEMA's Michael Brown or any other federal authorities for what happened, it's also inappropriate for the feds to blame state and local officials, as they're eagerly doing. If you condemn one, it's incumbent upon you to equally condemn the other.

3. It's not a game. Assigning blame isn't merely "playing politics." It's about ensuring the same mistakes aren't made again. Could even the most partisan Republican truly want to see this man in charge of the next natural disaster? Hurricane season ain't over, folks.

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