Differences at Qualcomm and Superdome

NY Post Editorial:

The winds in Southern California have died down and the temperatures have cooled - allowing most of the 23 wildfires that blazed across the region this week to have been either put out or contained.

That's little consolation to the residents of the nearly 2,000 homes that were destroyed. But the fact remains that, bad as it has been, the devastation could have been far worse. As could the loss of life.

This was the worst natural disaster to hit America since Hurricane Katrina - but the response was far different, and far more effective.

The reason: strong, effective leadership on the state and local levels - of the sort that was wholly lacking throughout Louisiana, and particularly in New Orleans, two years ago.

Consider the striking difference in how the evacuees of both disasters were treated. The New Orleans Superdome was a chaotic disaster area, wholly lacking in food, water and sanitary facilities. By contrast, San Diego's Qualcomm Center had cots and tents, plenty of provisions - even yoga, meditation, massage therapy and counseling sessions for all of those seeking emergency shelter. (This is California, after all.)

Credit for all this goes largely to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - who took charge from the first moment and whose state agencies displayed level-headed coordination and strong leadership when Californians needed it the most.

Still, that didn't keep some politicians from trying to turn the ongoing catastrophe into a partisan opportunity.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), for example.


Democrats looks at disasters the way ethics challenged lawyers looks at accident scenes. Is it an opportunity to pass out business cards or a chance to pitch in and help. The contrast between Schwarzenegger and Boxer could not be more pronounced. Louisiana Governor Blanco also pales by comparison (OK, the pun was irresistible). The Democrats' unethical attempts to use disasters to attack Republicans and push their agenda should get more criticism.

Rich Lowry makes the point that "When disaster strikes, there's no substitute for effective government."


But the contrast between public officials who have to cope with their own manifest inadequacies as leaders and failures to plan and prepare and those who are competent and engaged is obvious for anyone to see.

In New Orleans, the media madness hammered FEMA and the Bush administration for not overcoming the inadequacies of Louisiana public officials. The incompetence of the Blanco administration and Nagin administration was projected onto the federal government and used to unfairly attack the Bush administration. This blame shifting by Democrats has become part of their MO.

The NY Times defends the Louisiana incompetence and blame shifting.


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