This morning's NPR continued the routine condemnation of FEMA & Co., blasting their unpreparedness, etc... Criticisms fell like rain, flooding my bedroom with a good dose of post-holiday vitrol. Seems I wasn't the only one not happy about going back to work. The last commentator of the morning, a relief worker, broke the routine. The military's efforts were completely in keeping with timetables on such things, he argued. America's ability to provide comprehensive aid during this effort in 3 days is impressive. What is out of wack, he claimed, were our expectations.
Three days is an impressively short response time answering such a response, but central to our concern is the fact nothing was waiting as the storm approached. Americans aren't pissed that it takes 3 days to mobilize a National Guard unit, they are pissed that the Fed addressed the crisis reactively, not proactively. I expect that no serious planning, risk assessments or roadmaps have been drawn up for a US Rescue mission to Port-au-Prince, but who gives a shit. New Orleans was, until last week, one of the largest cities in the south, and such scenarios were envisioned. All the components for a proactive approach existed, and none was taken. As a result, our televisions have been inundated by pictures of an American City descending into the depths of lawlessness, privation and chaos. The government's response this week might be considered a stunning success in Port-au-Prince, but is wholly unacceptable on American soil.
This administration is consistently underprepared: Bush is in all things reactionary. Americans are forgiving of mistakes in extraordinary, wholly unexpected scenarios like 9-11. But we are tired of seeing its government fall flat on its face in situations suffering from a lack of preparation, from Najaf to New Orleans, for 5 years. Its not unrealistically high expectations for our government that are distorted, its the government's low expectations of itself.