Friday, September 02, 2005

Moral Responsibility
John Aravosis at AMERICABlog has had enough:
The nation can no longer afford George Bush as president. Bush ought to just resign and leave office before he breaks something else, and since Congress is unlikely to impeach him (though they should). But at the very least, if the frat boy who would be president cares one lick about our country, George Bush should step aside and pass the hurricane relief baton to someone with the intelligence and guts to get the job done.
Sounds about right. Dick Cheney lacks the Clinton/Reagan gift for looking you in the eye and touching your heart at the same time, and he shares the same fucked-up priorities Bush does, but presumably he'd know which butts to kick and how hard to kick them. Junior hasn't got a clue.

And speaking of priorities, Kevin Drum at Political Animal was also thinking about them this afternoon:
The federal government was slow to respond to Katrina because conservatives believe states should take the lead in looking out for their own needs. George Bush talks endlessly to the cameras about the private sector helping to rebuild the Gulf Coast because that's the kind thing conservatives believe in.

Liberals, by contrast, believe in a robust role for the federal government. We believe in sharing risk nationwide for local disasters. We believe that only the federal government is big enough to coordinate relief on the scale needed by an event like Katrina, and that strong, well managed agencies like FEMA should take the lead role in making this happen.
OK, gang, buckle up. The erstwhile history teacher in me, who absolutely reveres Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is taking over the next couple of paragraphs.

Along with millions of Americans who had watched the Great Depression deepen while Herbert Hoover kept his hands off, FDR understood that the United States had become too big and its economy and society too complex to be governed by a 19th-century ideology. It wasn't just a matter of the federal government being the only entity big enough to handle certain things--it was a question of moral authority also. Only the federal government, embodying the collective will of the American people, has the moral authority to act on behalf of the American people as a whole. And more important than having the moral authority is having the moral responsibility. It's not just that the federal government can act to promote the general welfare--it has to do it.

Argue if you want to that Roosevelt's plan, a little thing he liked to call the New Deal, didn't entirely pull the country out of the Great Depression. It took World War II to seal the deal. But Roosevelt's vision damn well set the stage for almost 30 years of unprecedented prosperity. (How many red-blooded, red-state, screw-the-New-Deal conservatives had parents or grandparents who owed their very lives to New Deal programs like the WPA or the TVA? I wonder.) It simply defies common sense that 70 years on, with the country even bigger and its economy and society even more complex, that we should permit the government to abandon its moral responsibility, forfeit its moral authority, and take us back to the lotsa-luck, laissez-faire system of the Gilded Age. And this week, we're seeing a test case in what it would be like if we did.

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