In today's New York Times, John Tierney looks at Katrina and derives the same lesson he derives from every experience it's possible to have on Planet Earth -- namely that people in the private sector do everything better than people in the stinky old government, particularly, in this case, FEMA. He argues that people suffered and died on the Gulf Coast because the government imposed too much red tape and had too many hidebound habits.
There's just one problem: Weren't we told back in 2000 that this was one good reason we should elect an M.B.A. president and a CEO vice president, rather than "career politicians" -- because they would bring old-fashioned common sense and hard-nosed business smarts to everything they do? With all its disdainers of government and admirers of cut-through-the-bullshit capitalism, shouldn't the Bush administration, by definition, have been able to just make things happen and get the job done?
And beyond that, remember that the Bushies were the folks who pored over every adverb and semicolon in the laws relating to torture and suspension of due process, looking for any loophole they could exploit in the treatment of terrorism suspects. Why didn't the Bushies apply a similar tireless diligence to the laws relating to relief? When they wanted to engage in waterboarding rather than rescuing people from water, the Bushies called on a phalanx of smart Federalist Society lawyers who could eloquently justify legally questionable impositions of pain and suffering; why couldn't the same lawyers do the same thing for the alleviation of pain and suffering?
I don't want hear that various things didn't happen because people at FEMA believed they didn't have permission to act; isn't the point of being in the Bush administration that Bush and his subordinates loudly insist that they have the right to do anything they want?