When disaster strikes, Democrats increasingly turn to blaming Bush rather than leading their voters through the proverbial–or literal–storm. Blame Bush first and ask questions later. That’s what looks like Kansas Gov Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, tried in the wake of last Friday’s deadly tornado in Greensburg.
With President Bush set to travel to now-razed Greensburg, Kan., on Wednesday to view the destruction wrought by Friday’s 205 mph twister, Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said she planned to talk with him about her contention that National Guard deployments to Iraq hampered the disaster response.
“I don’t think there is any question if you are missing trucks, Humvees and helicopters that the response is going to be slower,” she said Monday. “The real victims here will be the residents of Greensburg, because the recovery will be at a slower pace.”
Sebelius said that with other states facing similar limitations, “stuff that we would have borrowed is gone.”
The problem is, there is a question about all that “missing” stuff. It’s not missing. And Kansas doesn’t need it.
Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback disputed claims by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that a deadly Kansas tornado exposed holes in National Guard readiness caused by the Iraq war.
Sebelius said Monday that Kansas is missing about half its National Guard trucks and many well-trained personnel that could have helped respond to last weekend’s tornado in Greensburg, Kan. The twister killed at least 10 people and razed the farming town…
Brownback said Tuesday that local officials and the Kansas National Guard commander all told him they have the resources needed to respond.
“That’s what really got me, is her saying that,” Brownback said in an interview.
“So I asked, privately and publicly, the adjutant general, do you have the equipment you need?” he said. “Because if you don’t, we’re going to hit Fort Riley and McConnell (Air Force Base) and other places to make sure we have all the equipment we need to respond to disasters. Everybody there said no, we have the equipment we needed.”
He added: “I think what we need to do is to focus on what we need here now, and not draw a broader political question in. We’ve got a disaster, and we need to all pull together to get everything we need from the state and the federal for the local need.”
After visiting the town Monday, the Kansas senator said he asked about resources because, “I think FEMA has a lot of proving to do after Katrina.”
Sibelius seems to have wanted to have her own Katrina, but it didn’t quite work out. First, she’s wrong and Brownback and WH Press Secretary Tony Snow rebutted her with the facts. Kansas got what it needed and FEMA even moved supplies in before requests came in. The Iraq war had no impact on equipment or the relief effort. Second, while Katrina worked out great for the DNC it didn’t work out so well for Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco. So Sibelius backtracked.
Her spokeswoman, Nicole Corcoran, said the governor didn’t mean to imply that the state was ill-equipped to deal with this storm. Sebelius’ comments about National Guard equipment were, instead, meant as a warning about the state’s inability to handle additional disasters, such as another tornado or severe flooding, she said.
“We are doing absolutely fine right now,” Corcoran said. “What the governor is talking about is down the road.”
Down the road, Sibelius will try again if nature gives her a chance. She has been banging the “Iraq war is making it impossible for the National Guard to respond to natural disasters” line for a while now, and tried trotting it out after this tornado even though it had no bearing. If she doesn’t try it again, another Democrat will. Katrina is one more bloody shirt they’ll wave as long as Bush is in office and as long as we’re still fighting in Iraq. We’ll hear about Bush and the levees–but not the buses–for the rest of our lives.
Was the response to the Greensburg tornado at the federal or state level perfect? No. It never is. One hand usually doesn’t know quite what the other is doing, and you see evidence of that in this case. But while people are suffering the political response was terrible and it will get worse until January 2009. What should we expect from a party of ambulance chasers, but political disaster chasers?
More: Obama makes yet another rookie mistake. At least he didn’t accuse Kansans of resorting to cannibalism.
As if on cue: Here comes the NYT to provide an imbalanced account. Guess which side got the NYT’s fat thumb on the scale?
For balance and numbers, as opposed to touch-feely emotional reporting, read Confederate Yankee instead of the NYT. And marvel what a blogger can do that the Old Grey Liar can’t: Namely, get a story right.
Update: Disreputable Harry Reid piled on. Problem: His claims had already been debunked earlier in the day. There is no line Democrats won’t cross anymore if they think they can score a political point.