Dead bodies are still floating all over New Orleans. Hundreds, if not thousands, of children are still searching for their parents. Wiped-out communities are still awaiting water and power.
So, what is armchair first responder Sen. Hillary Clinton's first response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster?
"It has become increasingly evident that our nation was not prepared," Sen. Clinton, D-N.Y., lectured in a Labor Day letter to President Bush. Yes, thank you, Sen. Sherlock. Those gleaming degrees from Wellesley and Yale Law are really paying off.
Sen. Clinton's "Katrina Commission" would be modeled after the "independent" 9/11 Commission. I can see it now: Democrat Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, whose main imperative is covering up her own culpability, will be the next Jamie Gorelick; Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, the local corrupt-o-crat who got his 15 minutes of fame on "Meet the Press" last week, will be the next Richard Ben-Veniste.
And this time for "diversity," maybe they'll call on Randall "Black people are eating corpses . . . oh, never mind" Robinson and rapper Kanye "It's all about me" West to share their deep expertise.
Despite the abject failures of local and state officials to prepare for the worst, abide by their own evacuation plans, maintain an effective police force, and crack down on looters, Sen. Clinton's commission would only examine the "adequacy of federal response efforts."
Translation: Bash Bush.
Look, there's no question the feds fell down on the job. The president himself said he was "not satisfied" with the response. If the White House's purportedly brilliant strategists had any sense, they would advise Bush to fire Federal Emergency Management Agency head Michael Brown in a heartbeat. Brown is the most cretinous of political cronies, a college roommate of a former FEMA official with no prior experience in disaster management before he was hired in 2001 -- unless you count managing his own checkered job history.
All that aside, a Katrina Commission modeled after the 9/11 Commission is a recipe for more disaster and dissembling.
Do we really need another group of staunch Democrats and milquetoast Republicans appointed to furrow their brows and pull their chins and stab their fingers in the air on cue for weeks on end while they find 50 different ways to tell us "We are not prepared"?
Have you forgotten the spectacle of 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey hectoring witnesses, whining about his time being "eaten up," and yukking it up on Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" as he served on the federal panel investigating the deadliest enemy attack on American soil?
Or the stunning arrogance of 9/11 Commission chair Tom Kean, who carped that "people ought to stay out of our business" when challenged on Gorelick's clear conflicts of interest in investigating the barriers to communication between law enforcement and intelligence agencies?
As military leaders now spearhead bureaucratically delayed recovery efforts and private citizens and corporations lead the way on massive charitable relief campaigns, the last thing this country needs is another grand-standing panel of blowhards to soak up public resources to restate the obvious. There isn't a single Katrina victim who will benefit from hindsight hound dogs publishing thousand-page tomes with cherry-picked evidence that distorts the true narrative of what happened and why.
That is the wasteful, shameful legacy of the 9/11 Commission, which is undoubtedly relieved that Katrina has diverted attention away from the Able Danger fiasco on the eve of the fourth 9/11 anniversary. The panel failed to include any information in its report about the army intelligence unit that had identified al Qaeda cells -- including several 9/11 hijackers -- one year before the attacks. Five eyewitnesses deemed credible by the Pentagon have now vouched for the information, which the FBI never saw because of bureaucratic roadblocks enforced under the Clinton administration.
If it don't fit, you must omit. That seems to have been the unwritten mandate of the 9/11 Commission, and it's the mandate that the Democrats' top presidential contender in 2008 wants her Katrina Commission to follow.
President Bush gave in once to commission-ary zeal. He shouldn't make the same mistake twice. Let agency inspector generals, private, non-partisan researchers, the press and citizen journalists do the post-mortems.
Leave the leather chair-warmers and their PR agents out of it.