Steve Benen: In general, the ability of government agencies to respond to a natural disaster only draws attention when agencies fall short. The media tends to look for “the next Katrina” to demonstrate that feckless bureaucracies and government incompetence are the new norm.
But they don’t have to be, and with an effective administration, they’re not. The New York Times has a report today on the emergency response in the Southeast …. but in this case, the governmental response is earning praise, not condemnations: see here for details on the FEMA and White House response to the disaster
….President Obama and the First Lady were also on the ground in Alabama barely 40 hours after the storm struck. One local resident, who house was obliterated by a tornado, told the NYT, “It ain’t like Katrina. We’re getting help.”
What’s more, Kevin Drum notes some larger context: “Under Bush Sr., FEMA sucked. Under Clinton, FEMA was rehabilitated and turned into a superstar agency. Under Bush Jr., FEMA sucked again. Under Obama, FEMA’s doing great and responding quickly. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to politicize natural disasters. Not when that politicization makes Republicans look bad, anyway. So I’ll just let you draw your own conclusions from these four data points.”
I don’t imagine we’ll hear much about the Obama administration’s response in the Southeast; the media tends to only find these stories interesting if the government is failing instead of succeeding.
But it’s worth keeping in mind anyway. If it’s important when a federal response falls short, it’s worth appreciating what competent governance is capable of.
Full article here