Krugman points out that Gustav could not come at a worst time, because it reminds everyone how the Bush administration botched its handling of Katrina. But this time it's gonna be different:
Instead, Mr. Bush is playing Commander in Chief. On Sunday morning the White House Web site featured photos of the president talking to Gulf state governors about Hurricane Gustav while ostentatiously clutching a red folder labeled “Classified.” On Monday, instead of speaking at the convention, reports suggest that Mr. Bush will address the nation about the storm.
"What's wrong with this picture?" Krugman asks?
Let’s start with that red folder. Assuming that the folder contained something other than scrap paper, is the planned response to a hurricane a state secret? Are we worried that tropical storm systems will discover our weak points? Are we fighting a Global War on Weather?
Whatever is in that highly classified, top secret red folder, it doesn't seem to be the lessons that should have been learned from Katrina:
The political cost of Katrina shocked the Bush administration into trying to undo some of the damage at FEMA, and it’s a good bet that the initial response to Gustav will be better (it could hardly be worse). But because the political philosophy responsible for FEMA’s decline hasn’t changed, the administration hasn’t been able to reverse the agency’s learned incompetence. Three years after Katrina, and a year past a Congressional deadline, FEMA still doesn’t have a strategy for housing disaster victims.
Now, for McCain's plans to allegedly rise above partisan politics and put the "country first":
Earlier this year Mr. McCain, as part of his strategy of distancing himself from the current administration, condemned Mr. Bush’s response to Katrina. If he’d been president at the time, he says, “I would’ve landed my airplane at the nearest Air Force base and come over personally.”
Um, that completely misses the point. The problem with the Bush administration’s response to Katrina wasn’t the president’s failure to show up promptly for his photo op. It was the failure of FEMA and other degraded agencies to show up promptly with food, water and first aid.
And let’s hope that Mr. McCain doesn’t jet into the disaster area in Gustav’s aftermath. The candidate’s presence wouldn’t do anything to help the area recover. It would, however, tie up air traffic and disrupt relief efforts, just as Mr. Bush did when he flew into New Orleans to congratulate Brownie on the work he was doing. Remember the firefighters who volunteered to help Katrina’s victims, only to find that their first job was to stand next to Mr. Bush while the cameras rolled?
And Krugman's finale:What we really need is a government that works, because it’s run by people who understand that sometimes government is the solution, after all. And that seems to be something undreamed of in either Mr. Bush’s or Mr. McCain’s philosophy.
There, I told you blogging was easy. When you find someone who can say what you wanted to say as well or better than you can about an important issue of the day, you just let them say it. That makes you look like a humble, discerning individual who puts the blogosphere first and your own personal blogger ambitions second. John McCain, you taught us well!
Bristol's baby: Is Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter having her baby and marrying the father of her child because she wants to or because she has been pressured to? That's a legitimate question that both journalists and those interested in women's rights should be asking themselves. In my view privacy considerations have to be waived in cases like these, just as they always have been in American politics.
Meanwhile, back in Minnesota: Historian Andrew Hunt has an excellent roundup post on the police crackdown against protesters at the Republican Convention.
Sarah Wiki Watch: The Times also reports today that a "McCain campaign volunteer" heavily edited Sarah Palin's Wikipedia entry shortly before she was named VP choice. This one needs a little more investigation, IMHO. The episode also serves as yet another warning that while Wikipedia is good for a first check of what information might be available on a subject, it should NEVER be considered authoritative, no matter what its founders and boosters say. In fact, there is probably no such thing as an authoritative fact, period, although I don't recommend flinging oneself headlong into hopeless post-modernist angst.