Tuesday, September 20, 2005

What’s This? Democrats Getting Guts?

From the Washington Post:

President Bush came under withering criticism for his handling of Hurricane Katrina yesterday, with Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) charging that the storm exposed the administration’s incompetence and ideological blinders and former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) asserting that even in its response, the administration backs policies that support the privileged over the working poor.

Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, said in a speech at Brown University that Michael D. Brown, who quit under fire as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s director, exemplified the administration’s failures over the past five years.

Using the nickname Bush used for Brown, Kerry said, “Brownie is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq, what George Tenet is to slam-dunk intelligence, what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad, what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy, what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning, what Tom DeLay is to ethics and what George Bush is to ‘Mission Accomplished’ and ‘Wanted Dead or Alive.’ “


Edwards, who has made poverty a signature issue, said the plight of many of those displaced by the flooding in New Orleans underscores an urgent need for the nation to attack the problem again. He offered policy initiatives aimed at ensuring that Americans who work full time do not fall below the poverty line.


The two speeches followed pointed comments along the same lines by former president Bill Clinton, who criticized the administration’s response to the storm Sunday. Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Clinton said Bush should roll back tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to offset the cost of rebuilding, and he asserted that the poverty exposed by the storm-forced exodus was caused in part by the administration’s own policies.

“Whether it’s race-based or not, if you give your tax cuts to the rich and hope everything works out all right, and poverty goes up, and it disproportionately affects black and brown people, that’s a consequence of the action made,” he said. “That’s what they did in the ’80s; that’s what they’ve done in this decade. In the middle, we had a different policy.”

Of the speeches delivered yesterday by the Democrats’ 2004 ticket, Kerry’s was harsher by far, and it drew a sharp rebuttal from the Republican National Committee’s Tracey Schmitt. “Armchair-quarterbacking on tough issues has never been a problem for Senator Kerry,” she said. “Such tactics haven’t served him well in the past, and today is no exception.”

Oh, set it to music, Tracey. Your guys fucked up. Suck it up and take it.

Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats have torpedoed the Republicans’ plan for a joint investigation into Hurricane Katrina.

The Democratic leadership has refused to appoint members to a joint committee, citing the lack of equal representation of Democrats on the panel, and the lack of power to issue subpoenas that the majority opposed. Democrats also have insisted on an independent inquiry.

Democratic opposition has left Republicans little maneuvering room for mounting a credible probe. With the joint investigation apparently off the table, Republicans can only hope that Democrats will participate in each chamber’s separate investigation. It was far from clear today that Democrats would do that.

The only joint in that committee was the one somebody had to be smoking if they thought the Democrats would fall for the Republicans’ plan to exonerate the Bush administration from any failings in the response to Katrina. As if the Republicans had any intention of allowing the Democrats to make any more than a token contribution to the panel, anyway. It’s about time the Democrats stood up to them and called bullshit on the Republican theory of bipartisanship: “Be reasonable — do it my way.”