Jonah Goldberg

If Mr. Watson were at the helm, his reports might have gone something like: This just in: Hurricane Katrina reveals New Orleans is full of poor and black people. We'll have full coverage. And, after sports, weather and a hilarious story about a water-skiing squirrel, a very sad report: New Orleans was destroyed last night by a hurricane of biblical proportions.

Watson conceded the point. But he remained resolute in his conviction that Katrina proved the dire need for more diversity in the newsroom.

This might show how deeply enmeshed in identity politics we have become, which is why I half-expected to see those stories about gays left behind in Key West. After all, there's plenty of diversity in the media on that front.

But I think the larger revelation of Katrina has less to do with identity politics and more to do with showing what various people think the government is for. We've heard constantly that it is a scandal of one sort or another that the (overwhelmingly black) inner city residents of New Orleans are so poor 40 years after the War on Poverty was launched.

Indeed, the underlying assumption of the War on Poverty (and the New Deal) that government should make sure no one is poor is now widely accepted on both the left and the right. The chief arguments between policymakers on the right and left are over means, not ends. One side, speaking very broadly, believes the rising tide of the market should lift all boats. The other believes the government needs to tug the smaller dinghies.

During the John Roberts confirmation hearings, which several Democrats tried to make about Katrina, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., claimed that the Constitution, rightly understood, should ensure that "each person in this great country, man or woman, rich or poor, white or black, whatever it might be, can really reach their full potential."

Mr. Watson seemed to believe that if only the media were more diverse it would have not only alerted the government to the "big story" it would have put the heat on government much earlier to ensure that everyone - even inner city New Orleans residents - had reached their potential long ago.

Personally, I didn't need a hurricane to show me the government wasn't up to the job liberals have set out for it.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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