Katrina Was Not “Katrina”
May 29, 2010 4 Comments
The oil spill is now being called, at least in some quarters, “Obama’s Katrina”, so let me take this rare tantalizing opportunity to ostentatiously parade my consistency and evenhandedness by declaring that oil spilling a mile deep in the ocean somewhere – like a tornado hitting a city on a gulf – is not the fault of the President of the United States, and is not really the President of the United States’s responsibility to “fix”. Sometimes bad, unfortunate things happen, and perfect solutions do not exist, no matter how Smart you are, and you just have to wait, and see, and (yes) hope.
All else equal would it be good for President Obama to coordinate/bring about some sort of solution, fix, cap, stop to the oil gushing out from underneath the ocean (albeit not necessarily in the fashion Steve Sailer suggests, with I think appropriate sarcasm)? And would it have been good for President Bush to have figured out a way, when local government failed to and many of the people themselves declined to, to evacuate residents from New Orleans sooner? Sure, I suppose. For that matter, it would have been good if I or you had done such a thing. Any help in a crisis and all that. But in neither case is solving these things the job of the President of the United States per se, not in any real sense. And so in neither case does the fact that these things did not occur constitute genuine criticism of the President of the United States.
Criticizing Presidents for failing to “solve” natural disasters and crises of this magnitude and complexity simply perpetuates the unfortunate and frankly puerile hero-worship mythology that has risen around Presidents, that they are somehow super-intelligent superhumans (or, that they are supposed to be, anyway) that we charge with Solving All Possible Problems Under The Sun. This is unhealthy and unhelpful and I have no desire to participate in the ongoing construction and nurturing of this myth. Barack Obama, like George W. Bush before him, is a dude sitting in an office in Washington, DC, a rather flat drab place up on the East Coast. He has a staff of some busy-beaver people who live nearby. As far as I can tell they walk around corridors and sit on cushioned chairs and work on laptops and talk on cell phones all day long. Yes, I’m sure they are all bright and above-average intelligent and work very hard. However, I hate to break it to those of you out there who think that law degrees and other fancy pieces of paper, and expensive ties & pant-suits, endow their holders with omnipotence and infinite powers of leadership/string-pulling, but there is very little tangible that he or they can feasibly do to stop oil from gushing from a hole 5000 feet under the ocean, other than to urge and harangue folks who do do and know about such things to find a fix – and then hope that they do. As far as I can tell, that is exactly what President Obama (like me, and like you) is doing. I know not what else he can be expected to do, and if you don’t either, which you probably don’t, not really, then to criticize him in this way is misplaced.
There are plenty of other things to criticize him over. Plenty. “Obama’s Katrina”? Please. Katrina was not “Katrina”. Shit happens. There is no Superman. Grow up.