Republicans, blowin’ in the wind

posted at 11:21 am on November 16, 2006 by Bryan

What cost the GOP its majorities in Congress and statehouses? Nancy Pelosi and her wing of the Democrats are running around as though the elections validated their hard left view of the war and the world, but according to James Carville’s Democracy Corps, this election did no such thing.

What cost the GOP its power? Iraq? Foley? Look at page 6 of Democracy Corps’ post-election report. The GOP’s fortunes fatally cratered in the Fall of 2005, and were recovering ever since minus a couple of blips this year. What happened in the Fall of ’05?

Katrina. That storm turned out to be the hurricane that changed history.

The Bush administration felt the brunt of what turned out to be a perfect storm of horrendous weather, major disaster, bad luck, and more than the usual amount of dishonesty in Democrat politics, and media reporting that played up made-up tales of horror in New Orleans. Recall, first, that the Katrina disaster zone was the size of, roughly, England. That’s a civilization-level disaster that no bureaucracy in any administration would have handled very well. Combine 9-11 and Katrina, and the Bush administration has had to deal with two of the worst disasters in American history, one brought on by foreign aggression that was years in the making, and one the wrath of nature. Recall, second, that the levees shouldn’t have broken, but did. If they hadn’t, New Orleans would have been spared and there would never have been tales of rapes and murder in the Superdome, and there would have been no video of refugees on American soil. Recall, third, that though the levees were run by a corrupt local board far outside federal control and were constructed long before Bush came into office, like everything that’s happened since he came into office, Bush bore the brunt when the levees broke because Democrats blame him for everything and the media plays along. Recall, fourth, that NOLA is still run by the same incompetent mayor and Louisiana has the same indecisive governor, and when New Orleans had the chance to replace Nagin, they chose not to. So accountability for that disaster only goes one way–to Bush. The Democrats managed to turn all of the blame for Katrina back on Bush and he and his party never recovered from that. Recall, fifth, that FEMA’s own regulations specify a 72-hour period during which local jurisdictions experiencing disaster are told to fend for themselves until help arrives, and that Gov. Blanco in particular actually kept aid out of New Orleans before politicizing the lack of aid in the city during the 72-hour period (and that politicization actually started before the storm hit–that’s the main reason Clintonistas started showing up in Louisiana before landfall. They were working up a media plan to hit Bush hard if the storm struck powerfully, which it did). But recall, sixth, the narrative that came out of the Katrina zone even before the storm hit–that troops that might be needed to help out were then in Iraq. Katrina was, in a very real way, God’s gift to the Democrats. And they put it to use.

Put all of that together, combine it with the politicization of the storm by Democrats and aided by a very pliant press along with several real missteps by the Bush administration, and you have the end of the public’s confidence in Republicans. Running a black candidate for the Senate in Maryland just can’t overcome “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

There’s a lesson in all of this, that’s an old one but an important one to remember: Demagoguery wins, and more so when it comes in the middle of a horrific disaster. Also, lies do indeed travel halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on. By the time the story of New Orleans buses surfaced (only to be buried by the AP and ignored by the national media), the disaster had been framed as a Bush failure and the damage was already done. The media’s later mea culpa did nothing to change the basic narrative that already had a life of its own.

Democracy Corps’ polling doesn’t pick this up, but I suspect that the Democrats have one additional figure to thank for their newfound power. They can thank Katrina, and they can thank Ronnie Earle. Earle is the Democrat prosecutor in Travis County, TX, who drummed up charges against Rep. Tom DeLay last year, just in time to take DeLay off the 2006 playing field. Thanks to a rule in the Republican caucus that demands indicted officials step down from positions of leadership (the Democrats operate under no such rule and have no plans, even under Pelosi’s promised reign over the most ethical Congress ever, to adopt one), DeLay had to step down as House Majority Leader once Earle secured an indictment against him. DeLay may have been a lot of things, but one thing he was was an efficient leader and fundraiser. Without him in the fight, the Republicans were without one of their most effective strategists.

The actual case against DeLay is based on a law that didn’t exist when DeLay was supposed to have committed his crime. Earle’s case against DeLay therefore has an ex post facto problem and isn’t likely to result in a conviction of DeLay. Earle’s case is so weak, in fact, that he grand jury shopped until he got his indictment, and barely even got one before the clock ran out on his case. They say a DA can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich; DeLay was one tough ham sandwich to indict. In the elections of this this year the Republicans ended up losing DeLay’s own seat, and probably several others that he might have helped save by fundraising and helping shape their strategies. Given the fact that Earle ran a nakedly political prosecution of Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison shortly after she was first elected Senator, it’s probable that indicting DeLay was Earle’s way of helping his Democrat brethren take the House. And it worked.

Combine all of this with 2006 being a 6th-year mid-term and the historic pattern of the party in power losing seats, the war in Iraq being unpopular, the one-sided corruption narrative taking hold, and you have a disaster. Apparently Karl Rove’s vaunted 72-hour ground game failed to take any of the election’s actual issues and dynamics into account. People and ideas do matter. Turnout, it seems, will only get you so far if you’ve lost real ground on real issues. Voters do change their minds if their preferred party doesn’t seem to represent their interests anymore. The Republicans pass themselves off as the party of competence, law and order, strength and responsibility. The narrative that emerged from Katrina wrecked all of that, and opened up doubts that the GOP could handle the next disaster whether it turned out to be natural or man-made.

Inconveniently for Ryan Sager, you can’t blame any of this on the so-called religious right. Inconveniently for Nancy Pelosi, there is no mandate for San Francisco liberalism in any of this, either. There’s no mandate for anything at all, but she’s going to push as though she has one anyway. The Blue Dogs who rode to power on Katrina’s winds and Earle’s shenanigans are very likely to push back.

Inconveniently for Republicans, you’re out of power and showing no sign that you’ve learned a thing from your defeat. Inconveniently for the country, we’re still at war and may be led by the worst collection of dishonest demagogues Congress has ever seen.

(h/t Ali Bubba and Chris R.)


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There’s a storm a brewin’ in Washington, DC…disaster area will be the whole nation, perhaps the civilized world.

SouthernGent on November 16, 2006 at 11:26 AM

Good analysis.
There’s still people at work that complain about Katrina no matter how many times I’ve explained how things work in the real world. And we live in Red State Utah were we drink only Republican Kool-Aid. [j/k]

batperez on November 16, 2006 at 11:28 AM

The winds of change have blown through both houses, and conservatives are forced into rebuilding years. Now is the time to kick out the bad (McCain) and bring in the good (Steele).

Great post.

MikeyB on November 16, 2006 at 11:31 AM

If Katrina is all it is cracked up to be, Republicans deserved to lose because of the political bungling in the aftermath. New Orleans has shown it is not capable of self-governance (shoddy levy boards, no evacuation plan, rampant crime, corruption at all levels, etc.). When Bush said we would rebuild, he lost me (not for the first time). We should have turned the place into a marina or deep water port, sparing only the historical sections above sea level.

Valiant on November 16, 2006 at 11:32 AM

The Dems managed and did it well along with the media to
go on offense and they got the GOP to stayed on the
defensive tooo long.

You don’t win by playing defense. . .

Texyank on November 16, 2006 at 11:32 AM

good analysis

urbancenturion on November 16, 2006 at 11:34 AM

The power of the liberal press. Hide dems from biblical type failures, Nagin included, and fry drown the Republicans.

If Katrina was Bush’s fault, I’ll eat your hat. But the nation just might believe it.
We need Hotair more than ever, and a dozen more similar sites with 100,000 unique visitors a day, each.

shooter on November 16, 2006 at 11:35 AM

It has amazed me to talk about Katrina with the Bush haters that I know. To me, this has been the most telling conversation in diagnosing Bush Derangement Syndrome. Of all the mistakes made during and after the hurricane, Bushes were the least and the last, but they blame it all squarely on him (even to the possibility of levee bombing and hurricane steering).

RalphyBoy on November 16, 2006 at 11:37 AM

If Katrina is all it is cracked up to be, Republicans deserved to lose because of the political bungling in the aftermath. New Orleans has shown it is not capable of self-governance (shoddy levy boards, no evacuation plan, rampant crime, corruption at all levels, etc.). When Bush said we would rebuild, he lost me (not for the first time). We should have turned the place into a marina or deep water port, sparing only the historical sections above sea level.

Valiant on November 16, 2006 at 11:32 AM

It all goes back to New Orleans being a city that never should have been. Wrong place, and rebuilding it will only come back later as more of the same.

RalphyBoy on November 16, 2006 at 11:41 AM

It’ll be a cold day in ‘hell’ before I spend any $$ in chocolate Naw-lins…let the lib dems support the city and it’s mayor…

areseaoh on November 16, 2006 at 11:42 AM

Where I live we just want all of the Katrina welfare moochers to go home. They brought no positive contributions to any of the areas who took them in and are still whining about having all of their freebies cut off.

LakeRuins on November 16, 2006 at 11:49 AM

I would go so far as to argue what happened in 2006 wasnt all that big a deal. It was a natural historical correction.

1980 Saw the Democrats in control of Congress and the White House. AS typical the Ameican people got distrustful of one party having too much power.

This lead to a shift in giving the Republicans the White House with Ronald Reagan and control of the US Senate and many gains in the congress.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_elections%2C_1980

Overall results
Party Total Seats (change) Seat
Democratic Party 242 -35
Independents 1 +1
Republican Party 192 +34

This quickly changed around two year latter.

1982 elections The Republicans lost the senate and many house seats

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_elections%2C_1982

Party Total Seats (change)
Democratic Party 269 +27
Independents 0 -1
Republican Party 166 -26

Now the government stayed divided until the 1992 elections when Clinton beat Bush Sr to take the Presidency and swept many democrats to power

By 1994 there was a get turn around in Congress.

Party Seats Seat percentage Popular Vote

1992 Elected Net Change
Democratic Party 258 -54
Independent 1 1
Republican Party 176 +54

Which now leads us to 2006 and the completion of the cycle. The dems gained seats while the reopublicans had held the Congress and White House

TOTAL GAIN/LOSS

GOP 196 -28

DEM 229 29

So as can be seen this shift was the smallest of the three elections of 1980 and 1994 when there were far more radical shifts and the every next elections the party that won big ended up losing seats in the next elections.

The point is that the American people dont like one party having too much power and they move back to a balance. But what happened on tuesday was the smallest shift in a re alignment election and isnt a repudiation of anything.

William Amos on November 16, 2006 at 11:54 AM

It all goes back to New Orleans being a city that never should have been. Wrong place, and rebuilding it will only come back later as more of the same.

There was another report after the Katrina thing when people were asking that question. New Orleans is considered one of the most important maritime ports for the US and the Western Hemisphere. I wish I could remember where I saw it… but strategically, New Orleans is a VITAL port and will never be abandoned.

Something about how the Mississipi is still an important trade route and necessary for getting goods into and out of the midwest.

Kai on November 16, 2006 at 11:54 AM

Also, I live on Gulf Coast in Texas. Most everyone with a good deal of common sense knows what to expect in the event of a Hurricane.

I hate to say it, but the “victims” of the Katrina disaster IN NOLA, are victims of their own making. My heart really goes out to the people in Biloxi, Pass Christian, Miss. coast. Those guys had their communities wiped off the map.

But alas, “Society failed NOLA” and it’s all our fault, because those poor people couldn’t get out. IDIOTS.

It’s just stupid.

Kai on November 16, 2006 at 12:00 PM

Inconveniently for Ryan Sager, you can’t blame any of this on the so-called religious right.

Of course we can blame the religious right. Why didn’t you pray for Katrina to be averted? After all, you’re the ones that know how to talk to this “God,” the rest of us just have to deal with the freaky consequences.

Enrique on November 16, 2006 at 12:00 PM

It rains on the just and the unjust.

Bryan on November 16, 2006 at 12:02 PM

Interesting analysis, but you missed out on one main point.

The Reps allowed the Dems and Media to frame the debate. The MSM was constantly harping on the idea that this was an election about Iraq, as if it was fact, not opinion… say somthing enough times, and some people will start to believe it. The MSM constantly downgraded coverage of the Illegal Alien debate, and the economic numbers, and social issues by telling people that this was NOT what this election was about…

Add in a few scandals, and an out of touch Rep party… and you have the results we saw.

Romeo13 on November 16, 2006 at 12:16 PM

I worked the phones for one of the big non-profits that was heavily involved with the Katrina money deal. We weren’t even allowed to ask for positive identification (first point of contact). It seemed as if 50% of callers really had no right to the funds provided, but hundreds of thousands of people called in for their two grand ($2,000.00). Most demanding it.
I spent 40 days of 6 to 9 hours a day answering the phones, usually with 200 calls in the queue, 95% wanted money. 70 % were ungrateful. It was very depressing. We had shrinks in office for the volunteers and the callers if nec.
During this period, it got exponentially worse after the second storm hit Texas. People that left Katrina for Texas tried to get another $2 grand for being in the second hurricane and really got pissed when turned down.
During this period and for 7 months after (thru May 2006) I tried 3-4 times a month to go to New Orleans with a dump truck to help with all the trash and debris. I called, emailed Parish’s(counties) the State, the City’s, everyone and every place possible. Not one local entity had any idea what was going on. FEMA was buried doing everything, it appeared to me. Never did make it down there, even after no less than 10 cities or parishes promised to call me back.
The bottleneck was/is the local governments, PERIOD. Always was and still is. They really want someone else to do everything for them. It sickened me to see such slothful people all in one region.
Tens of thousands of people around the country tried to help and did help. But the help seemed to stop right at the city limits, like a sign posted “nothing past here”.
Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco are to blame, and the N.O. people re-elected Nagin….go figure. Kinda proves the point.
Billions of wasted dollars, and I do mean wasted.

shooter on November 16, 2006 at 12:17 PM

Yes Bryan, but we all know that capitalist swine countries like the US are the cause of Global Warming that causes the rain. Seriously, the thing that really chuffs me about the whole Katrina mess is the focus on New Orleans..there were smaller cities in Ole Miss that were obliterated and they receive no publicity because they were of the wrong political mix. It may rain on the just and unjust, but most don’t give a rats a** about what happened to people outside NOLA.

austinnelly on November 16, 2006 at 12:19 PM

Democrat incompetence does in the Republicans.

Funny thing is, it was the “you’re doing a great job Brownie” comment that probably sealed their fate. It was like when his father was telling us the economy was doing great which sealed his fate. How ironic…

TheBigOldDog on November 16, 2006 at 12:30 PM

One thing in the “Post Election Report” that was mentioned, and cought my eye, often was the “Bush-Gingrich Conservatives” reference.

Bush is not a conservative in my view. So I don’t understand the comparison of the Gingrich conservative model verses the Bush lack of conservative model. How are they the same?

The analysis of the MSM role in the elections is a no brainer and other points in Bryan’s spin are spot on.

So the other question is: from a historical perspective, a second term President and Congress dominated by one party is doomed to lose seats on mid-term elections. Is/has this the trend?

Kini on November 16, 2006 at 12:38 PM

Agreed, Bryan. The country is in for one helluva ride in the next 6 years.

spmat on November 16, 2006 at 12:40 PM

I think it’s willful ignorance on the part of both parties to not accept that it was corruption and not Iraq that was the cause of the shift in power. That’s not to say that Dems aren’t as corrupt as the Reps. They just got a mostly free pass from the media on what they were doing. The Reps have to learn that they do indeed have to play by the rules because if they don’t they will immediately have their mistakes strewn across the NYT’s front page. They have to be cleaner than the Dems for that reason.

The choices Republicans are making for their leadership show that they aren’t accepting corruption as the reason for their losses and they are doomed to repeat the same election results in ’08. The Democrats are likewise picking corrupt leaders but they will get a free pass like always so it won’t impact them.

Benaiah on November 16, 2006 at 12:42 PM

Democrat incompetence does in the Republicans.

Actually it was Republican incompetence that did in the Republicans. It continues on a daily basis.

Valiant on November 16, 2006 at 12:42 PM

Great post, Bryan.

The crushing thing about this is that so much of it is based on sleight of hand. The Feds did an astounding job with Katrina rescue efforts, much like the removal of Saddam’s regime, which is also much maligned by people who don’t know or don’t care what an operation that really was.

It certainly wasn’t perfect, and no one has any right to expect that it should have been. But what the administration mangled was it’s communications effort and yes, PR. Bush was absolutely tone deaf, and Scott McClellan might as well have just stayed home for his part. But as for the rescue efforts, I have just one question for critics: what should have been done that wasn’t?

Ronnie Earle is a disgrace and if he doesn’t bring a solid case against DeLay, he should be prosecuted.

Pablo on November 16, 2006 at 12:58 PM

Excellent post. Bookmarked in my must haves for reference. That is a lot of information and research for my little brain to get it all in one reading!

CrimsonFisted on November 16, 2006 at 1:35 PM

I’ve had a userID and password for hotair for some time. But this is the first time I’ve posted and this article did it. This is probably the absolute best synopsis of why the GOP lost the 2006 elections. We can all go into other various reasons why we lost. But this sums it up real well.

I think the bottom line as mentioned in the article is the loss of a cohesive strategy to counterattack false democratic accusations. We constantly played the defense and never went on the offense.

GOP deserved to lose and they will lose again in 2008 and every election thereafter until we return to our roots of Reagan Conservativism and the Contract with America.

We are the party of Lincoln and Reagan for a reason.

armyvet on November 16, 2006 at 1:46 PM

It seems to me that absolutely everyone with an agenda is saying, “If only you followed my agenda…”

I can state categorically that the Republicans would have won handily if Allah had posted more pictures of pretty pundits.

dinasour on November 16, 2006 at 1:52 PM

Yes, but – it’s not these “issues” that sunk the GOP, it was the malicious invention of these “issues” by the MSM and their Pravda-esque campaign of misinformation. I am a little surprised at how little blame is being placed at the feet of the MSM for the election debacle. Yes, the GOP has made some ridiculous mistakes, but compared to the treasonous Dems the party was Herculean. Old Media won the congress, and they will not forget that in 2 years…

Halley on November 16, 2006 at 2:21 PM

Great piece. Great writing.

JJ.1 on November 16, 2006 at 2:23 PM

My mom works for FEMA (hired after Katrina) and spent 6 weeks in New Orleans in November/December of 2005 (right after the hurricane).

To put it nicely, she did not come back with a favorable impression of NO (and, most of the locals she talked to on Bourbon Street said that the hurricane had cleaned up that part of town).

While she was there, FEMA had a bunch of trailers sitting in Arkansas ready to be used as temporary houses for Katrina victims. I believe these trailers got mentioned a lot on the news as evidence of FEMA incompetence because they were sitting empty in AR rather than in New Orleans. What the news never said is that FEMA (not for lack of trying) had been unable to get the local authorities to give them authorization to bring the trailers in. So, FEMA (and, by extension Bush) get a bad rap for incompetence while the local boys got great press coverage even though they were the ones holding things up.

The people in NO were driving my mom crazy. They’d come in without any flood insurance. She’d help them to file papers and get the government grants they were eligible for. Instead of being grateful that they were getting some help, they were pissed off that they weren’t getting the grants AND the insurance payouts.

On a more heart-warming note, she did have a cool story about a Vietnamese man and his wife that she helped. They were recent immigrants (in the country less than 3 months). They had lost everything in the floods. The man, who could only speak a little English, looked at my mom with tears in his eyes and said something along the lines of, “Why are you helping me? In Vietnam they wouldn’t have helped. Why are you helping even immigrants?” My mom just smiled, shook his hand, and said, “Welcome to America.”

JadeNYU on November 16, 2006 at 2:55 PM

*GREAT* post and *EXCELLENT* analysis, Bryan.

What Katrina did was blow over the rock of American politics, and, if we would ever look, show us what slithers beneath.

Also, I live on Gulf Coast in Texas. Most everyone with a good deal of common sense knows what to expect in the event of a Hurricane.

I hate to say it, but the “victims” of the Katrina disaster IN NOLA, are victims of their own making. … But alas, “Society failed NOLA” and it’s all our fault, because those poor people couldn’t get out. IDIOTS. It’s just stupid. — Kai

A month or two before Katrina, there occured a hurricane (I can’t remember its name) which was bearing down, folks thought, for the Texas Gulf Coast, toward Corpus and points south. As it happened, it went well below Brownsville, making landfall in Mexico. There was no great emergency, no loss of life that I can remember, very little property damage to speak of.

The thing is, has the hurrican made landfall at Corpus, had it continued inland to low-lying districts, had it even come all the way into San Antone, Texas was ready.

My family and I live on Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX. Right next to our housing area, there’s a large open field where, when I was a young soldier stationed here, there had been dozens of warehouses. Now, there are open, grassy fields where the wooden warehouses had been, the docks are gone, but the roads for trucks to service the warehouses are still there. Nowadays, these fields are used for units on post to play soccer, and today I just drove by them to see them lining the grass out for fall touch football.

For at least a week before the pre-Katrina hurricane didn’t hit, those roads were filled with semi-tractors and trailer upon trailer. FEMA and the Texas emergency folks had a tent there to allow them to coordinate the receiving and dispatching of those trucks, all civilian contractors presumably in the pay of Texas.

The trucks themselves were full of necessities for folks poking their heads up in the aftermath of a hurricane.

When the hurricane blew over — or, rather, nudged south — the trucks and FEMA folks dispersed. The trucks appeared over a period of about two days, waited about as long, and took about as long to disperse.

The country, from the Carolinas to Florida and around the Gulf to Texas, had ample warning of Katrina’s approach. Watching the TV as Katrina blew in was painful. Cars jammed the two- or three-lane road out of Chocolate City, the opposing two- or three-lanes empty. Later, all roads out, north- and southbound, east- and westbound, were openned, but too little, too late. As we’ve all seen, buses upon buses were left to rot, and I’d wager that a few did. Many in the Chocolate City PD up and split.

Mind you, as others here have pointed out, Biloxi and Mobile and points in Florida and even in Texas, just as hard-hit, began digging out and pitching in as soon as the leaves stopped wiggling.

Why the “disaster” of Katrina? They didn’t have Fort Sam Houston’s truck fleet. More to the point — as neither Texas FEMA nor Fort Sam Houston are heirs to any blame here — Louisiana and *PARTICULARLY* Mr. Nagin’s now-melted Chocolate Slums had no plan, no provision, nothing in place for services to their people. What is more, these are people *USED* to services.

Here’s the “wiggly worm under the rock” part: the storm blew in and rearranged furniture in the most systematically and institutionally *CORRUPT* state in the country. Louisiana is close to being the Third World, and Chocolate City is its rightful capital. The Blanco administration flailed about, gobs agape, making the Long family and Edwin Edwards look like Guliani on 9/11.

Nagin was the worst of the bunch. First he was lost, then he was found, then he was lost again. The plan for city shelter, evidently, was “crowd into the dome”…and then claim racism afterwards.

The *REAL* “wiggly worm” part is that Nagin was re-elected! He had marital relations with the proverbial canine and he’s still trusted by the citizens of Chocolatesville with the reins of power! During the campaign, he coined the now-oft-remembered racial appellation for his city…either completely oblivious that by saying that his city was in black hands and history waying that his city is a basket case, ergo saying that black leadership is a disaster in the making…or completely ignoring it.

Then, the racists cranked up.

The levee districts responsible for keeping water from reclaiming the technically underwater Cuidad de Chocolate are evidently divvied up among competing interests in and around the city. There’s evidently lots of Corps of Engineers money to be had. As we now know (if we have *NEVER* even *HEARD* of politics in Louisiana before), public service is the quickest way to make a buck out in the parishes if you don’t own an off-shore oil-drilling platform. For *GENERATIONS*, these hoods neglected and got by on contracts, probably keeping the levees within minimum specs, to the detriment of city. They were helped along with this by the geniuses at the Corps of Engineers across several federal administrations, probably going back to the days of Huey Long’s “dee-duct box”.

The wards of the city hardest hit were the ones closest to the levees which burst…and the infamous Ninth “Ninf” Ward is among the poorest and blackest. Now, generations of inattention and a culture of corruption have conspired to blow away these daub and wattle houses, and it’s the fault of the Republican president. His guys dynamited the levees to kill black people…fresh from flying aircraft into buildings on 9/11 and miraculously surviving, and on their way to starting an earthquake in Iran.

There is a culture of entitlement in this country which looks to the top *FIRST*, laying blame for *EVERYTHING* untoward on the life of the effected community, while completely ignoring the thugs, villains and pimps who’re selling you “the dream”, who *SHOULD* be looking out for you. Nobody’s picking on Blanco much, and, as I said, Nagin’s been reenlisted. You can’t blame the pimp for introducing you to the hooker with a razor. You’ve gotta blame the po-lice for not seeing that she was carrying a razor in her purse…in the dark.

An overwhelmingly partisan population, which can’t seem to pick or maintain competent leadership — Marion Berry, Cynthia McKinney, Waters, Conyers, Gwen Moore, Charlie Rangel — but seem to stick with folks who sell them a bill o’ goods, and reelect them up to and into the grave.

…but, you’ll never see ‘em *DEMAND* or organize any trucks, ready and waiting as the next disaster looms, to relieve the suffering of those bone-headed constituents of theirs. It’s much more profitable to *DEMAND* restitution, investigations and the heads of the high-and-mighty after the fact.

By the time of Hurricane Rita, Houston, San Antonio and other areas of Texas had taken in tens of thousands of Chocolate City citizens. Then, as if on cue, here was another hurricane to fill their sails, to see them to their new homes.

…and, at Fort Sam, the trucks were back.

The hurricane hit this time, and trucks began to roll. For what must’ve been a week, the fields by my house were abuzz with activity. No muss, no fuss, no vandalism, no wandering truckers in the housing areas. These guys and gals were pro’s. After the first trucks went out, more arrived, to be sent on.

Baytown, Houston, and Galveston were hit hard. Power was out for quite a while afterwards. It rained in buckets quite a way inland. Then, storm done, trucks rolling, Texas dug its way out, and went back to dodging the purse-snatchings, drug sales invitations, burglaries and assorted outrages intendant upon inviting folks from Chocolate City to stay for a while.

The New Orleans culture of entitlement ran up against Texas municipal and state law enforcement, and nobody’s had a minute’s rest since. I remember visiting a friend of mine years ago in Houston. In his neighborhood, all the houses, even the meanest among them, had burglar bars on the windows. What was curious is that they’d *ALL* mounted them on the *INSIDE* of the windows. I don’t think that there was a massive, across-the-board Do-It-Yourself dumb-out in that seedy part of Houston…I think that it’s because thieves in that part of town were even *STEALING THE BURGLAR BARS*!

…and, even in these hard-boiled neighborhoods, the crime rates skyrocketed…from what they must’ve been before.

All Katrina did was uncover a rather nasty rock in this country…and all the denizens underneath wriggled out. Race, institutionalized and politicized poverty, sloth, municipal malfeasance and the 24-hour cable news cycle all conspired to make the most telegenic and powerful — and, as we know now, politically *IN-astute* — man into the equation the bad guy. Some of his subordinates behaved like minor league circus clowns…but only *AFTER* the State of Louisiana and the City of Nagin *BOTH* had *UTTERLY* failed.
…mind you, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, to say nothing of Texas, all seemed light-years ahead in handling *THE EXACT SAME LEVEL OF DAMAGE* by comparison.

This doesn’t let Mr. Bush off’n the hook, though. He’s had well over a year to fight back…and he didn’t. Maybe we ought to’ve assembled the trucks here at Fort Sam for the November 7th election. It sure turned out to be a disaster.

Puritan1648 on November 16, 2006 at 3:05 PM

Pablo,

I liked the analysis, too. And I don’t much like the notion that an election could be swayed so dramatically by something like this, it’s hard to ignore.

Republicans and right-thinking people saw through the BS from the media on this mess, but I suppose the swing voters who don’t see things through a partisan prism could have been convinced — somehow — that the aftermath was all lack of planning.

Dare I say that Madame Malkin was one of the most severe critics of FEMA on this, too. I suspect she would say that the greatest efforts of the government were too late to have the greatest effect, and maybe that’s true.

Jaibones on November 16, 2006 at 3:59 PM

I hate to say it, but the “victims” of the Katrina disaster IN NOLA, are victims of their own making. My heart really goes out to the people in Biloxi, Pass Christian, Miss. coast. Those guys had their communities wiped off the map.

People often make this comparison–that NOLA didn’t recover as quickly as did the folks in Mississippi. Seems to me this conveniently ignores the overwhelming fact that it was not the hurricane that knocked out NOLA, it was the levees breaking, something not germane to the Mississippi victims. Big, big difference.

honora on November 16, 2006 at 4:50 PM

Well said Bryan. Well said.

Troy Rasmussen on November 16, 2006 at 4:56 PM

Thomas McMahon, Executive Director of the DNC, has this to say in a recent e-mail to party faithful:

Republicans have spent the last week so frantically delivering their talking points that you’d think that it was still election season.

They’re desperate to convince pundits, reporters and the public that the 2006 elections are anything but what they were: a complete rejection of the Republican ideology, incompetence and corruption.

Hmmm? Can you fit that into the above Katrina scenario? The Democrats were successful in convincing a majority of those that voted and the new and old news medias that these were the election talking points.

cranura on November 16, 2006 at 5:10 PM

People often make this comparison–that NOLA didn’t recover as quickly as did the folks in Mississippi. Seems to me this conveniently ignores the overwhelming fact that it was not the hurricane that knocked out NOLA, it was the levees breaking, something not germane to the Mississippi victims. Big, big difference.

honora on November 16, 2006 at 4:50 PM

And who was responsible for the poor shape that those levees were in when Katrina hit?

DannoJyd on November 16, 2006 at 5:24 PM

I think the photo of the Donk holding a pistol to Uncle Sams temple speaks volumes. You guys are on the mark. Thank you Bryan for your analisys of the failed election. You guys say it so much better than I ever could. (But I was thinkin it!) I like the extended play version too Bryan. The actions and in actions of the citizens(inhabitants)of NO can be directly linked to 40 years of government handouts and government created jobs. This is a very failed social experiment called THE GREAT SOCIETY Yeah real great. These are the very elements being EXPLIOTED by the terror cells in this country. We must keep the NSA program alive with full authority to do the great job they have done to date.

sonnyspats1 on November 16, 2006 at 5:47 PM

Are you from Louisiana, Bryan??? Your excellent analysis of this election cycle is virtually the same as that from Louisiana Republicans. Until your post, I thought we were cussing and discussing in an echo chamber.

Aunt B on November 16, 2006 at 6:21 PM

People often make this comparison–that NOLA didn’t recover as quickly as did the folks in Mississippi. Seems to me this conveniently ignores the overwhelming fact that it was not the hurricane that knocked out NOLA, it was the levees breaking, something not germane to the Mississippi victims. Big, big difference.

honora on November 16, 2006 at 4:50 PM

What?
No one is making that comparison. My argument is the opposite, that Miss. and others got knocked the frack out and they’re dealing with it. But the “real story” is NOLA, only because we saw black people in dire straits on TV.

http://www.sunherald.com/mld/thesunherald/sports/15833555.htm
http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/hurricanes/katrina/quickphotos/passchristian/
http://www.spaceandculture.org/uploaded_images/40238228_dd55a542ee-748320.jpg

Kai on November 16, 2006 at 6:28 PM

A lot of things did in the R’s this election. Katrina may have had a small affect but I don’t buy that it was the decisive event in the Dem’s rise back to power.

conservativecaveman on November 16, 2006 at 6:34 PM

I can’t argue with what you say here but it makes things seem dark and hopeless. Should I haul out the Home Hari Kari Kit?

Why is it we seem to simply take Democratic Dirty Tricks as part of the environment — like mosquitoes at a picnic, annoying but not much we can do, right?

We’re stuck with a massive press apparatus that we can’t overcome — they control the news cycle so even our victories die silent deaths.

It seems to me that rather than simply accept these monsters in the garden, a smart group like conservatives could figure a way to deal with the worst of it. Maybe the GOP should hire some powerhouse media relations people to not only find ways to unlock the liberal grip on the news cycle but to ensure news media outlets that leak highly classified information are actually prosecuted for the crime. Or is the press above the law? I must’ve missed that court ruling.

Bush should’ve learned from Clinton. If he had only walked out on the White House lawn, made a speech about battalions being sent in to aid and rescue and how he “feels their pain” — then did lots of photo ops in leaky rowboats helping people out of the water — standing with his arm around Ray Nagin and blistering the press for trying to focus on drowned school buses while people still needed help — maybe even taking in a displaced family into the White House like many did in the nation — and, before the sunset, demand Congress make his taxcuts permanent …

You don’t just throw up your hands and crawl into the corner — you learn how to tame the lion. The media can’t help itself about somethings — it will cover some stories no matter whose face is there. The GOP has got to learn those and other tricks if it wants to play the media gotcha game with the big boys.

Arnold
Tarheel Redneck

prairiemain on November 16, 2006 at 6:55 PM

Aunt BI’m not from Louisiana, but close by, and I get the state’s politics fairly well.

Conservativecaveman, just go look at the chart I linked to. It’s pretty clear from that chart that the GOP cratered hard in the Fall of ’05 and never recovered.

Fwiw, Mississippi’s recovery is still ongoing. Its disaster area is far more widespread than New Orleans’. The main difference between its plight and that of NOLA is in the reaction, and how Mississippi chose to rise up and deal with the disaster while NOLA chose to blame everything on Bush.

Bryan on November 16, 2006 at 7:20 PM

Bryan, with all due respect, I’m sure you know this Democracy Corps thing was done by James Carville. Enough said?
If the Republican loss was due to Katrina, it was only partly due to Katrina, i.e. the public perceived that Congress was giving the victims too much money, which translates as pork to the rest of the country.
After the pork packages of NCLB, Medicare prescription drugs, the Bridge to Nowhere and zillions of other earmarks, the tax-paying public had had it with Congress passing big-spending bills.
That, combined with failure to do anything about Social Security, plus our perceived “loss” in Iraq and our failure to do anything real about immigration and border controls is what lost the GOP both houses.
A lot of Americans voted for a war that is to be fought harder with the gloves off (and perhaps more troops), strong borders and a Congress that doesn’t spend money like a drunken sailor.
I don’t think most black people really think that President Bush “doesn’t like black people.”–that’s just silly and with black Conservatives coming to the fore, the perception of the GOP is changing back to the Party of Lincoln.
President Bush has worked hard to show that he’s everyone’s President.
I do think a lot of black people who are taking charge and responsibility of their own lives were embarassed by the behavior or their fellow black brothers and sisters in New Orleans who it became obvious were totally dependent on the Government to do everything for them.

Jen the Neocon on November 16, 2006 at 8:12 PM

Ignore Carville’s spin, which is all throughout his report. Just look at the chart. Katrina was a tipping point.

Bryan on November 16, 2006 at 10:19 PM

As usual, Bryan’s reporting is well thought through and thorough. I agree with the theme only in part.

The decline of the conservatives’ umpf began with the Schiavo case. Libertarians didn’t like the heavy government interference and the feds intervening. It could have hurt the liberals because they didn’t oppose it but it hurt the conservatives more.

The out of control spending, the border, the amnesty and no balls on fighting the media and the left on Iraq were major contributors. The WH needed a communications dept. on the WoT and is still lacking it. Now it’s too late. I have no idea what the function of Karen Hughes was meant to be or what she’s doing at State. Not a good pick on top of it and too late, anyway.

The Left had nothing to run on, except “we need a new direction”. The Right responded with “we’re bad but they are worse” or “you might not be in love with us but wait until you see what they do to you”. The media of course worked double-time for the liberals and will continue to do so in the next 2 years. Fortunately there are more venues now and the libs will give us all enough to work with.

The independents once again decided the outcome and it’s hard to say what they were looking for. I can’t figure them out and I’m one of them. One thing they were tired of was the spineless approach from the conservative leadership and the WH. The constant defense became depressing.

Sadly, not many took the times and the current challenges of the WoT seriously and won’t until it’s probably way too late and too costly. The American people do the right thing, mostly, but only when the knife is really, really close to the bone. Until then, the party goes on, in an optimistic and multi-culti fashion. 2 jobs at least, 5 TVs and 3 SUVs to a household and life’s not bad.

The economy is good, gasoline is cheap again, hearts are big – therefore the minimum wage hike is ignored, probably the amnesty too, never mind that the cycle will repeat itself, like from the Reagan one…until the terrorists strike again…then we’ll refocus the minds and the instincts.

Entelechy on November 16, 2006 at 10:29 PM

The fact that MSM’s blame-Bush spin on Katrina has such a Category-5 impact on the GOP is part of a larger story:

The MSM won the election.

I have tried to explain this previously. If politics was like the Star Wars series, then the 2006 election was THE MSM EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Ali-Bubba on November 16, 2006 at 10:29 PM

Might fine piece of analysis, Bryan.

If GW would have come out with the mopey droning Clintonesque “I feel your pain” schtick, he may have fared better.

Self-reliance as a character trait does not exist in large proportion any longer. Most folks just rely on someone to write them a check. Others get upset because the “other guy” isn’t writing the check fast enough.

AZ_Redneck on November 16, 2006 at 10:34 PM

Seems to me this conveniently ignores the overwhelming fact that it was not the hurricane that knocked out NOLA, it was the levees breaking, something not germane to the Mississippi victims. Big, big difference.

What’s so overwhelming about that fact? What’s the big, big difference between having your house flooded or having it blown off the map? Once your homeless, what does it matter how you got there?

Pablo on November 17, 2006 at 5:09 AM

The republicans could hardly push a story-line of local responsibility when they’d spent the past several years doing their utmost to abandon any concept of federalism. If you’re going to engage in a federal takeover of education with NCLB, ignore any concept of states rights when it comes to drug policy (see DEA harassment of (in that state) legal medical marijuana patients, and harassment of doctors prescribing pain meds), promise to pay the cost of meds for every senior citizen in the country, and expand rather than limit the federal government, you can’t expect people to listen when you turn around and say “well the local and state governments need to shoulder some of the responsibility too”.

I don’t think the feds had any responsibility to do more than they did, and think that given the political swamp NO is, that they did a fine job. But you can’t pick and choose when states should be making their own decisions. Perhaps if the republicans hadn’t pushed the b.s. ‘compassionate conservatism’ theme, and done their best to abrogate decision-making of the states previously, they would not have been on the hook for getting LA out of the trouble it was in.

You can blame Katrina, and the MSM, but I think they wouldn’t have gotten into that pickle in the first place if they hadn’t made such an effort to take over local decision making. You spend years setting yourself up as the state’s daddy, expect them to come crying and blame you when they skin their knees.

Add to that a stomach-churning dose of pork-grabbing, corruption, sex scandals, and a party leadership that has completely ignored its base, and you lose. The republican party acted and governed just like democrats, to the point where the public was left asking if it’d really hurt to vote for the real thing. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see much difference.

celeste on November 17, 2006 at 6:24 AM

And who was responsible for the poor shape that those levees were in when Katrina hit?

DannoJyd on November 16, 2006 at 5:24 PM

Army Corps of Engineers are responsible for maintenance; I believe the funding is primarily federal and secondarily state but could be wrong.

honora on November 17, 2006 at 10:02 AM

What’s so overwhelming about that fact? What’s the big, big difference between having your house flooded or having it blown off the map? Once your homeless, what does it matter how you got there?

Pablo on November 17, 2006 at 5:09 AM

I have been in a hurricane and I have been in a flood. Floods are about 100 times worse–floods last much longer, cover vastly larger areas, and spread disease like nothing else.

To your question, on an individual basis, homeless is homeless. You can’t ignore the difference in scale and concentration however. I totally agree that NOLA govt is a sham, but that doesn’t mean that this catastrophe was any less.

honora on November 17, 2006 at 10:07 AM