Mona Charen
Just a few days after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the New York Times' Paul Krugman crowed triumphantly about the federal government's response to the disaster. "[A]fter Katrina the government seemed to have no idea what it was doing; this time it did. And that's no accident: the federal government's ability to respond effectively to disaster always collapses when antigovernment Republicans hold the White House, and always recovers when Democrats take it back."

What a fairy tale. Mature adults understand that earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters are an unfortunate fact of life. They further know that government agencies are, by their very nature, slow and lumbering animals.

Krugman was right about one thing, though. Sandy would not be Obama's Katrina because the press is on his side. President Obama parachuted into New Jersey after the storm and declared that he would not tolerate "red tape" or "bureaucracy" by the government. He then hopped back aboard Air Force One and resumed his campaign schedule. His admirers, including, alas, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and the besotted Krugman, swooned.

Six days after Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, President Bush's presidency had been declared a failure and a disgrace. It was all FEMA's fault we were given to understand, and by extension, Bush's fault. It wasn't the incompetence of local and state officials or the levee collapse (a failure, by the way, that impartial observers lay at the feet of another government agency going back years, the Army Corps of Engineers). No, within a few days of the storm's impact, Bush was an enemy of the people.

Six days after Sandy hit the East Coast, most of the press had utterly lost interest in the human toll, though thousands of people went without food, water, gasoline or electricity for the better part of two weeks. The Washington Times reported that two weeks after Sandy, "Bodies are still being recovered in Staten Island. Chaos reigns in the streets of the outer boroughs. Residents have taken up arms -- baseball bats, machetes, shotguns -- as crime and looting soar."

When New York Senator Chuck Schumer visited Staten Island four days after the storm hit, a desperate constituent begged him, "Where is the government? We need gasoline! We're gonna die. We're gonna freeze."


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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