Sunday, April 23, 2006

Signs of Dissent among the Republicans

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, had some not-so-nice words about President Bush and his administration this weekend: "We have seen what happens in New Orleans when people waited for the federal government. Their response was terrible there and we don't want to be a victim of that." Hmm, the Bush administration's handling of the Hurricane Katrina situation was "terrible," and that's coming from a loyal Republican who spoke at the 2004 convention.

So, how do you suppose Bush is going to "Swiftboat" Ahnold? Do you think the Democrats stand to gain more from seeing Schwarzenegger go down or by seeing Dubya out of the political arena forever? Do you think the Republicans stand to lose more from showing a crack in the solid front or from mindlessly supporting whatever Bush says, no matter how insane or incompetent?

Read more... (including stuff about the New Orleans mayoral election, too)

It's about goddamned time that the Republicans duked it out in public, instead of leaving the Democrats to bully themselves into submission as usual. It's about time that the Governator grew some actual cojones instead of just calling other politicians "girlie men." The measure of your leadership in the history books of generations yet to come will not be your twelve-second sound bite from the evening news, it will be your actual performance of your duties. The Governor of California and the President of the United States both have a duty to the people of California to shore up our levees before they fail, just as the local officials and the federal officials all had a duty to the people of the Gulf Coast to strengthen the levees, oversee an effective evacuation plan, and bring prompt relief to the people left behind.

I see in the news today that the runoff in the New Orleans mayoral election next month will be between current Mayor Ray Nagin and Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu, both Democrats but in an officially non-partisan race. Nagin won more votes than Landrieu, but not enough to win on the first ballot. All the same, Nagin fell from what had looked like an easy re-election just a few weeks ago. Race will be a major factor in the runoff, whether the candidates like it or not, although it is an issue that cuts both ways. I'm honestly not sure which I would vote for, if I were a New Orleanian. There are questions about Ray Nagin's performance in the immediate lead-up and aftermath of Katrina to which I have never heard satisfactory answers, but the same is true of the state government. Yes, Governor Blanco was the point person, but the Lieutenant Governor should've been in there somewhere. FEMA should've been there, the National Guard should've been there, and somebody besides CNN and Wal-Mart should've been there.

However, that one ain't my battle to fight, nor even to handicap. Will Nagin hold onto his lead over Landrieu, or will his downward momentum continue? The answer ought to depend on which of them can better account for his Katrina performance. I want to hear statements like, "I missed this sign of trouble, and I missed that opportunity to do something constructive, but I clued in when I saw X and then I did Y." It's just a little thing called the politics of personal responsibility.

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