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16 November 2013

Obama's Katrina? The NYT Acknowledges Obama's In Trouble By Reminding Us That Bush Was Really, Really Bad. Remember?!!

Don't you mean 'NYT brats'?

At the website front page the teaser headline  — which is also the headline in the paper version — is:  "As Troubles Pile Up, a Crisis of Confidence for Obama." But if you click to the article, the headline becomes "Health Law Rollout’s Stumbles Draw Parallels to Bush’s Hurricane Response." 

I can think of a whole bunch of non-parallels: 

1. Bush's political party didn't design and enact Hurricane Katrina. 

2. Bush didn't have 5 years to craft his response to the hurricane. 

3. Bush didn't have the power to redesign the hurricane as he designed his response to it. 

4. The Republican Bush believed he could not simply bully past the Democratic Mayor of New Orleans and the Democratic Governor of Louisiana and impose a federal solution, but the Democrat Obama and his party in Congress aggressively and voluntarily took over an area of policy that might have been left to the states. 

5. The media were ready to slam Bush long and hard for everything — making big scandals out of things that, done by Obama, would have been forgotten a week later (what are the Valerie Plame-level screwups of Obama's?) — but the media have bent over backwards for years to help make Obama look good and to bury or never even uncover all of his lies and misdeeds. 

6. If Bush experienced a disaster like the rollout of Obamacare, the NYT wouldn't use its front page to remind us of something Bill Clinton did that looked bad. 

But let's check out the asserted parallels in that NYT article by Michael D. Shear:

The disastrous rollout of his health care law not only threatens the rest of his agenda but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency.  

But unlike Mr. Bush, who faced confrontational but occasionally cooperative Democrats, Mr. Obama is battling a Republican opposition that has refused to open the door to any legislative fixes to the health care law and has blocked him at virtually every turn.

Oh, well, that's another nonparallel. Republicans oppose Obama, unlike those Democrats who sometimes helped Bush. And the NYT reinforces my point #5 (above).  

 But think about it this way, NYT. What if Bush and the Republicans had created the hurricane, and the Democrats adamantly believed it would be better not to have a hurricane? Would the Democrats have been "occasionally cooperative" to Republicans who smugly announced that they won the election and they've been wanting this hurricane for 100 years and canceling the hurricane was not an option?

Republicans readily made the Hurricane Katrina comparison. 

Oh? Note the wording. It doesn't say that important Republicans were bringing up Katrina on their own. I suspect that the journalist, Shear, asked various Republicans to talk about Bush and Katrina and some of them did.

“The echoes to the fall of 2005 are really eerie,” said Peter D. Feaver, a top national security official in Mr. Bush’s second term. “Katrina, which is shorthand for bungled administration policy, matches to the rollout of the website.” 

Okay, so Shear got Feaver to put a name on the assertion that Republicans made the comparison. No other Republican is named. Shear moves on to Obama's "top aides" and tells us — here's my point #5 again —  that they stressed how unlike Katrina it is, since "Mr. Obama is struggling to extend health care to millions of people who do not have it. Those are very different issues."  

I agree. The health care screwup isn't a natural disaster. Obama and the Democrats made their own disaster, stepping up to do something they should have known they weren't going to be able to do well, and they lied about what they were doing to get it passed. 

And yet they meant well. They wanted to help people. Unlike Bush, who — what? — asked for that hurricane? 

ADDED: My point #4, above, draws from this passage in Bush's "Decision Points" (previously blogged here):

If I invoked the Insurrection Act against [Governor Blanco's] wishes, the world would see a male Republican president usurping the authority of a female Democratic governor by declaring an insurrection in a largely African American city. That left me in a tough position. That would arouse controversy anywhere. To do so in the Deep South, where there had been centuries of states' rights tensions, could unleash holy hell.

And the NYT would have framed it that way (which is my point #5).

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