Day By Day

Friday, May 28, 2010

Peggy Noonan on the Oil Spill

From the Wall Street Journal:

I wonder if the president knows what a disaster this is not only for him but for his political assumptions. His philosophy is that it is appropriate for the federal government to occupy a more burly, significant and powerful place in America—confronting its problems of need, injustice, inequality. But in a way, and inevitably, this is always boiled down to a promise: "Trust us here in Washington, we will prove worthy of your trust." Then the oil spill came and government could not do the job, could not meet need, in fact seemed faraway and incapable: "We pay so much for the government and it can't cap an undersea oil well!"
She then goes on to make two very important points.

The massive perception of federal incompetence fostered by the media in the case of Katrina was specific to the Bush administration. This was in large part because the Democrats had not been tested in a similar way and could claim that they would have done better. They could charge that President Bush was uniquely unable or unwilling to mobilize the vast resources of the federal government effectively and efficiently. But now the Democrats have had their shot at governing and have proven to be no more effective than the much maligned Republicans. This makes plausible the essential conservative argument that it matters not which party is in pulling the levers of power, the federal government, even at the time that it is assuming more and more control over more and more things, is inherently incompetent to do most things.

And, building on this she warns Republicans not to get too excited about their own future prospects. If they win control of the federal government they will inevitably face their own catastrophes and, if (as seems likely) their is correct, they will "blow it".

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