Matt Towery

 Last week, I interviewed an evacuee from New Orleans who told of one man killing another in order to prevent the rape of a 7-year-old girl in those hellish first days after Katrina.

 So we have two wars to fight. The first is the race against time in coordinating an all-out war against the small but significant segment of the Islamic world that believes its sanctified mission is to rain death and destruction on America, Britain and the West.

 The second is the war that calls on us to reexamine our entire system of response to major calamities. That includes the ability to keep order among our citizens when nature or foreign enemies wreak disorder.

 No aspect of our emergency response system is above reproach. Inadequate on-the-ground communications coordination among law enforcement and other first responder personnel may be the chief complaint.

 Who's in charge when catastrophe strikes? Many leaders amount to no leaders. The creation of a massive homeland security bureaucracy has not meant the homeland is secure. It needs to become so and quickly.

 Then there's money. Like all of us, the federal government only has so much. It can't provide every senior citizen with virtually free medicine, build the most expansive highway program in recent history, rebuild an entire region of the country that has been devastated by storm damage and also fight a world-wide war for survival against terrorists.

 All this is breaking the bank. Something has to give.

 Some Republicans and other conservatives felt President Bush made a mistake by taking the ultimate responsibility for the federal government's shortcomings in responding to Katrina.

 They are wrong.

 In a like manner, some Democrats and liberals will say that Tony Blankley is simply rattling the saber of conservative warlords when he talks about a showdown of civilizations.

 They are equally wrong. What both Bush and Blankley have done is speak the sobering truth -- and that's one thing America needs right now more than anything else.

 Now that they have spoken, the response must be swift. The public has spoken.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery