Tuesday, September 6

DIFFERENT STROKES FOR SMARTER FOLKS

Greg Wallace of "What Attitude Problem?" links incredulously to a New York Times' piece in which John Tierney defends President Bush from the storm surge of criticism he has received in the wake of the New Orleans' relief debacle. Tierney describes the fateful city of New Orleans' emergency response plan as grounded irresponsibly in a Good Samaritan delusion. By contrast, he points to how cities in coastal Virginia would respond to a similar catastrophe in terms of citizens, as was commonplace in New Orleans, refusing to evacuate their residences in the face of an impending natural disaster:

Instead of relying on a "Good Samaritan" policy - the fantasy in New Orleans that everyone would take care of the neighbors - the Virginia rescue workers go door to door. If people resist the plea to leave, Mr. Judkins told The Daily Press in Newport News, rescue workers give them Magic Markers and ask them to write their Social Security numbers on their body parts so they can be identified.

"It's cold, but it's effective," Mr. Judkins explained.

That simple strategy could have persuaded hundreds of people to save their own lives in New Orleans. What the city needed most was coldly effective local leaders, not a president in Washington who could feel their pain. It's the same lesson we should have learned from Sept. 11 and other disasters, yet both liberals and conservatives keep ignoring it.