Katrina’s Impact

I haven’t had much to say on this blog about Katrina. 

I posted my thoughts about the economic impact in my Downturn post and I gave some link love to Brian in my Slidell Help post

And I posted a Feed The Children Ad via World of Blog.

And we are giving and plan to keep giving as long as our help is needed.

But I honestly feel that I’ve mostly ignored the terrible Katrina tragedy this week on my blog.

I haven’t ignored it personally but I haven’t felt like I had much to say.

I can’t do the play by play that Jeff does so well on Buzzmachine.

I share Jason’s anger, but I just don’t know enough about the unique challenges to go off on the leadership failures.

And mostly I am terribly conflicted by the fact that I am sitting on the beach in one of the most beautiful spots I know while thousands of americans are dying of thirst and starvation, as Tom Watson articulated in his excellent Gimme Shelter post.

Finally, I woke up this morning with something to say and its not about Katrina itself but about its impact on our country and our priorities.

America has been blessed by its natural bounty, its melting pot of people, and its winning bet on freedom and free markets.  But we’ve been coasting for quite a while, possibly since the end of World War II.  We’ve gotten fat and happy.

We’ve gotten used to sitting in our family rooms and watching terrorist bombings in Jerusalem, London, and Paris and saying to ourselves, "thank god it can’t happen here".  Sept 11th changed that.

We’ve gotten used to seeing earthquakes, mudslides, floods, tsunamis, and other horrible natural tragedies all over the developing world and saying to ourselves "thank god it can’t happen here".  Katrina changed that.

The twin blows of 9/11 and Katrina are a wake up call for our country.  We aren’t all that.  We are humans just like all the other humans living on planet earth.  We are vulnerable like everyone else.  We may be be a "superpower" but what is that worth if we can’t protect our own citizens?

I hope and believe that we are on the cusp of a new political order.  We’ve had the liberal excesses of the democrat’s run from the depression through Vietnam.  We’ve had the conservative excesses of the republican’s run from Vietman through Iraq.

It’s time we get back to electing people to govern who know something about leading, operating, and managing.  We need pragmatic moderates who make the hard decisions without caring about the political impact. We need civil servants in the mold of George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower.  We need people who care about the details of governing rather than the details of getting elected.

We have been blessed in NYC with two such people over the past 12 years, Rudy Guliani and Mike Bloomberg.  I am not suggesting we should elect either of them president, but I am suggesting that americans are going to focus on the resume more and the rhetoric less.

I think, hope, and pray that this will be one of the long term results of the Katrina tragedy.