As I write these words and as most of you read them, New Orleans is still under water. Yet, the politics of recovery have dominated the news already – and it is abhorrent.
In the wake of disasters like Katrina, America is always asked the same question: Are we mature enough to resolve this issue without resorting to politics? Time and again, our nation answers with a resounding “No.”
In the gradient of red to blue, every group is a participant in this political blame game. It is not so much the blame game, but the politics that is the problem, because it is obvious there were some serious failures on every level of government. However, the stifling partisanship and inane comments from politicians and celebrities are what destroy reasonable discussion.
Adding tension to irrationality, the news media sets up shop like a flea market, buying and selling what is most controversial and entertaining. The story of Hurricane Katrina is no exception. As a result of all of this, we’re recovering not only from a natural disaster on the Gulf Coast, but also the fallout of a political quarrel.
As I said, there’s a difference between blame and politics. Unfortunately, the American political scene seems to be wholly incapable of recognizing the difference. The politicians do recognize, however, that an honest elected official won’t make it very far in his or her career, and maybe that is the greater truth at play. While people are still being evacuated and families are still torn apart, the politicians are taking potshots at each other with the implications of next November firmly implanted in their peripheral.
A day before DNC Chair Howard Dean called for leadership not partisanship, he was taking his own partisan shots in saying the relief effort is somehow racist and class-warfare driven. Hacks on talk radio are pointing out the implications of Louisiana and New Orleans obviously being Democrat country – Republicans are just better, they say.
Of course, the congressional Democrat leadership is doing their best to make sound bites fit for the evening news, and MoveOn.org has played an incredible game of connect the dots with the hurricane and Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. Celebrities are having a heyday in sharing their brilliant political treatises; specifically, Kanye West has proved his genius is not found in statesmanship.
In contrast, you can clearly see people like Franklin Graham and his organization, Samaritan’s Purse, who are in the region providing assistance in countless ways and are already helping in the rebuilding process. I happened to see Graham on cable news this past week and he refused to play the game of dishing out fault, instead simply raising awareness for the cause. People like him are down there for one purpose, and that’s to help. It surely is an example to the rest of us who feel compelled to play the role of a Monday morning quarterback.
Moreover, too many of us feel compelled to take this as an opportunity to campaign for our favorite causes. The conservatives are going after homosexuality in New Orleans. The Israel supporters are going after America’s foreign policy over the Gaza pullout. The environmentalists are on their collective soapbox over global warming. The Democrats are yelling from the rooftops about President Bush’s failure to plan for this over the past five years. And Republicans are upset about the supposed failure of liberalism in New Orleans.
Does America understand the meaning of reverence? Apparently not. I know I’m expecting too much, but I wonder if the selfish ambition of politicians in the wake of this disaster is as repulsive to everyone else as it is to me. Yes, there must be an investigation and there must be a vigilant commission that will look into the exact failures of this situation, but that isn’t what’s going on. The only thing we’ve seen so far is “experts” constructing talking points. That is reprehensible in the face of the great plight of our fellow Americans on the Gulf Coast.