We missed a bullet around here – the full centers and the equally full houses around this town are going to slowly evacuate. And some are going back to a Beaumont hit harder than they thought it would be, but most to a Houston that will have some downed trees and outages but, all in all, is a lot better off than anyone thought it would be a few days ago. My husband’s aunt & her daughter phone from his mother’s – they are going back to homes they know have electricity. I am thankful. So, the following strikes an inappropriate tone. But I’m posting it anyway.
My dentist is on the city council, has been for a decade or more. As he was working on my teeth Tuesday, he’d pound a bit, then rave about Nagin; then he’d pound a bit, rave about Blanco. I don’t know his politics – these are not party posts. He kept comparing what our local community had done–he’s attended endless Homeland Security and FEMA conferences–with the complete lack of even basic leadership in New Orleans. The plans for our city, a hundred and fifty miles from the coast and a pretty small potatoes town, are clearly a good deal more complete (or at least more known).
So, Friday night, we tune in (as we have done since the days of our courtship and now as our children finish grad school) to Washington Week in Review. When Doyle McManus was asked why the response to Rita looks smoother than to Katrina, he says it is because the governor of Texas is a Republican (as are Barbour and Jeb Bush). We are left with one of two impressions – the rather snarky one that it is all a matter of politics and Bush doesn’t work well with others or the other (equally snarky) that Republicans plan better, have a certain humility in the face of catastrophes, and take their roles more seriously than themselves. Actually, I doubt this is party-oriented. It is competence-oriented.
Jonathan is right – I’m sure I’d be a lot happier if I didn’t think about such fleeting things. Like I can make a difference. But I resent the fact that a series I used to enjoy because it often talked about the whys and hows, that had the voice of reporters like Charles McDowell talking about things like the mint and the costs of coinage and how that played into a bill working its way through Congress, has become yet another PBS panel delighting in the smirk and snark, seeing politics in what was and could be tragedy. Going back to the novels in which I lost myself in my youth would probably teach me more–in the best of those are the universals, are character and life caught in words. But. you know, I don’t think WWiR needs to be this irritating.