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There They Go Again

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By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 10, 2007; 7:44 AM

Natural disaster strikes. People are killed. Emergency services are rushed in. And political finger-pointing begins.

That's the pattern, and it doesn't take very long to get from A to D.

We saw it in New Orleans, where liberals blamed Bush and conservatives blamed Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco (and everyone blamed FEMA). And the latest example is the tornado that destroyed Greensburg, Kansas.

Think that tragedy has nothing to do with Iraq? Guess again.

The Democratic governor framed the problem, which formed the lead of this front-page New York Times story:

"For months, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and other governors have warned that their state National Guards are ill-prepared for the next local disaster, be it a tornado, a flash flood or a terrorist's threat, because of large deployments of their soldiers and equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The piece did quote Tony Snow, but gave heavy weight to the argument of Democratic governors, along with a Democratic state senator in Kansas who invoked Katrina and said this was "becoming a trend."

Conservative bloggers mounted a Category Five response, including John Hawkins of Right Wing News:

"Oh, it's a trend all right. When Republican governors like Jeb Bush in Florida or Haley Barbour from Mississippi have disasters in their state, they handle them fairly well. When Democrats like Kathleen Blanco in Louisiana and Kathleen Sebelius in Kansas screw them up because they're incompetent, they blame George Bush because they know the media will ignore the fact that disaster response is primarily a local responsibility.

"It's really no different with the big cities. Show me the worst run cities in America, cities like New Orleans and DC, and I'll show you cities run top to bottom by Democrats who blame Republicans for their incompetence."

Wizbang also thundered about it:

"Kansas' governor, Kathleen Sebelius, responded in much the same fashion as Governor Blanco of Louisiana did after Katrina: blame the Bush administration. The state's National Guard was unable to respond as effectively as it could because of its involvement in the war in Iraq.


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