Michael Kinsley knocks it out of the park with his op-ed this morning titled The fetid aroma of hindsight:
AS A GOOD AMERICAN, you no doubt have been worried sick for years about the levees around New Orleans. Or you’ve been worried at least since you read that official report in August 2001 — the one that ranked a biblical flood of the Big Easy as one of our top three potential national emergencies. No? You didn’t read that report in 2001? You just read about it in the newspapers this last week?
. . . .
You never gave five seconds of thought to the risk of flooding in New Orleans until it became impossible to think about anything else? Me neither. Nor have I given much thought to the risk of a big earthquake along the West Coast — the only one of the top three catastrophes that hasn’t happened yet — even though I live and work in the earthquake zone.
Of course, my job isn’t to predict and prepare for disasters. My job is to recriminate when they occur. It’s not easy. These days the recriminations business is overrun with amateurs, who are squatting on all the high ground. The fetid aroma of hindsight is everywhere.
Kinsley has a few words for the prescient Corps of Engineers:
The Corps of Engineers has done many marvelous things. But it would cement over the Great Lakes and level Mt. Rainier if we would let it. Its warnings about natural disasters are like the warnings of that famous economist who has predicted 10 of the last five recessions.
as well as for Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu:
Likewise, a senator may not be the best judge of the need for a vast federal construction project in her state. Landrieu’s I-told-you-so’s would be more impressive if the press release archive on her website didn’t contain equally urgent calls to spend billions of dollars to build boats the Navy hasn’t asked for in Louisiana shipyards, self-congratulations for having planted a billion dollars of “coastal impact assistance” for Louisiana in the energy bill (this is before the flood), and so on. Did she want flood control or did she want $10 million to have “America’s largest river swamp” declared a “National Heritage Area”?
Kinsley says that the only president you can’t blame for the disaster happening to begin with is . . . George W. Bush:
Obviously — obviously in hindsight, that is — we should have spent the money to strengthen the New Orleans levees. President Clinton should have done it. Presidents Bush the Elder and Reagan should have done it. As Tim Noah notes in Slate, warnings about the perilous New Orleans levees go back at least to Fanny Trollope in 1832. In fact, the one president who is pretty much in the clear on this is our current Bush — not because he did anything about the levees but because even if he had started something, it probably wouldn’t have been finished yet.
Okay, leftists. In your eyes, anyone who disagrees with you on Bush’s allegedly obvious responsibility for Katrina is just a right-wing hack. I guess it’s time for you to start trying to pin that label on Michael Kinsley.