Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON -- In less enlightened times, there was no catastrophe independent of human agency. When the plague or some other natural disaster struck, witches were burned, Jews were massacred and all felt better (except the witches and Jews). 

     A few centuries later, our progressive thinkers have progressed not an inch. No fall of a sparrow on this planet is not attributed to sin and human perfidy. The three current favorites are: (1) global warming, (2) the war in Iraq and (3) tax cuts. Katrina hits and the unholy trinity is immediately invoked to damn sinner-in-chief George W. Bush.

     This kind of stupidity merits no attention whatsoever, but I'll give it a paragraph. There is no relationship between global warming and the frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes. Period. The problem with the evacuation of New Orleans is not that National Guardsmen in Iraq could not get to New Orleans, but that National Guardsmen in Louisiana did not get to New Orleans. As for the Bush tax cuts, administration budget requests for New Orleans flood control during the five Bush years exceed that of the five preceding Clinton years. The notion that the allegedly missing revenues would have been spent wisely by Congress, targeted precisely to the levees of New Orleans, and reconstruction would have been completed in time, is a threefold fallacy. The argument ends when you realize that, as The Washington Post notes, ``the levees that failed were already completed projects."

     Let's be clear. The author of this calamity was, first and foremost, Nature (or if you prefer, Nature's God). The suffering was augmented, aided and abetted in descending order of culpability by the following:

     1. The mayor of New Orleans. He knows the city. He knows the danger. He knows that during Hurricane Georges in 1998, the use of the Superdome was a disaster and fully two-thirds of the residents never got out of the city. Nothing was done. He declared a mandatory evacuation only 24 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit. He did not even declare a voluntary evacuation until the day before that, at 5 p.m. At that time, he explained that he needed to study his legal authority to call a mandatory evacuation and was hesitating to do so lest the city be sued by hotels and other businesses.

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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