As a constructive alternative to the finger-pointing, Glenn Reynolds has assembled a list of practical lessons from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. His readers weigh in, too, with some good ideas.
Based on this CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, most Americans would join with Glenn’s preference for tangible lessons over assignment of guilt. Respondents were asked to evaluate the performance of various levels of government in responding to the hurricane. Roughly half of those responding to the survey rated both the federal agencies’ performance and the state and local agencies’ performance as “good” or “great,” compared to “bad” or “terrible,” with the state and local levels scoring a little higher.
When asked “who is to blame for the problems in the city following the hurricane,” 13% said President Bush; 18% said federal agencies; 25% blamed state or local officials; and 38% said “no one.” Rather surprisingly in view of the constant bad publicity, 63% said that no one should be fired as a result of the response to the hurricane. Moreover, 62% say that the progress now being made is satisfactory.
No doubt there is some gnashing of teeth in Democratic circles over these numbers, but Republicans shouldn’t be complacent. The Democrats won’t stop making unfair attacks on the administration; on the contrary, they’ll keep repeating their charges over and over until the poll numbers have shifted in their favor. That’s what the proposed commissions are mostly about. So I still think, as I argued on Sunday, that the administration needs to do a better job of defending itself.
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