Republicans are small business owners, corporate bigwigs, white rural farmers. They're not peace corps workers, idealistic Red Cross workers, state government coordinators or federal relief experts. That is not to say they don't have care for the needy, they support local churches and private community organizations. But this disaster can't be handled by a bunch of church communities, it requires federal coordination and FEMA has been castrated under Bush.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum is apparently thinking the same thing.
UPDATE II: Bruce Reed of Slate has a fascinating story about FEMA. Apparently it started out the same way it is now - as a dumping ground for political hacks and loyal campaign workers. It only worked well under Clinton and his fellow Arkansan James Lee Witt.
UPDATE III: Here's Krugman.
UPDATE IV: Brad DeLong sums it up thusly:
if we elect people who don't think a functioning government is very important, we shouldn't be surprised when it turns out we don't have a functioning government.UPDATE V: I have a feeling this will be (or at least should be) a very important topic, so I'll keep updating this post as long as I find stuff I like. Here's a good post by Greg Anrig with an important conclusion:
The failures of the Bush administration are the failures not just of one president, but of a conservative ideology that remains more popular in the abstract than liberalism. That disparity has a lot to do with relentless, well-organized attacks against liberalism over the course of many years. A comparable assault on conservatism, which the facts now will support quite effectively, is long overdue.And Kevin adds an important list of things that Bush should not be blamed for (important because pointed critisism = effective critisism):
I don't blame him for being on vacation when Katrina hit. I don't blame him for a certain amount of chaos in the initial response — that's inevitable no matter how good your plan is. I don't blame him for rolling FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security. I don't blame him for focusing more on terrorism than on natural disasters. That was a natural reaction to 9/11.UPDATE VI: Via Andrew Sullivan, a list of FEMA blunders.