Saturday, April 30, 2011
Twister and Shout
The last thing I had planned to do was contaminate any discussion of the devastating events in the Deep South with the injection of partisan politics -- not this soon after the actual event, at least. But, not surprisingly, there are some who don't share my shame when it comes to pulling that kind of crap.
I give you, drumroll please, Andrew Breitbart:
"I think they look at the polling and they realize that this is a very polarizing president who needs to shore up his base, who's really investing himself in being the blue state president for blue state people. And so for him, Alabama and a red state, a place that he's almost never gone to Alabama, he knows that he can't win them over so what's the point in investing any amount of time or effort into drawing the maximum amount of help for people who don't support him politically?"
So to turn a really idiotic phrase from Kanye West: Barack Obama doesn't care about red state people -- the people of Alabama. Is that it?
Breitbart goes on to say that the media apparently don't much care about Alabama either, that because it's in the South they're not giving it the kind of coverage that they would if this disaster had struck in, say, New York or California. While he would've been right to imply that nonstop servitude to yesterday's Royal Wedding in the face of this disaster was deplorable, to claim that the fact that these tornadoes flattened Alabama as opposed to some place where members of the national media presumably get their morning lattes is absurd. First of all, if tornadoes had leveled New York or California, it would've been one hell of a story for very obvious reasons related to how often tornadoes strike those places. Beyond that, though, it's certainly true that urban centers -- regardless of where they happen to be in the U.S. or what their politics are -- tend to make for more startling coverage during disasters simply because they offer Americans common points of recognition, also because we like to believe that our cities are impregnable. But Tuscaloosa, Alabama isn't the Australian outback; it's not like it's at the ass end of the planet from us and therefore the most powerful media companies in the country will simply let it slip through the cracks. Katrina did monumental damage down south and the press was on top of it from day one.
Speaking of which: The government was slow to respond to Katrina; that can't be argued with. This time around the response has been swift and for the most part thorough. Federal help was almost instantly dispatched to those in need -- despite Breitbart's asinine assertion that Obama and his progressive cabal are holding back because, well, fuck those hicks -- and requests from states for the very necessary financial aid they need are being honored. But once again, as much as it really does pain me to bring my own partisanship into this, a commenter here mentioned yesterday the irony of state leaders who've spent the past several months howling about the evils of the federal government -- how it needs to be smaller; how government programs have to be cut back; how the states should be left alone and be allowed to nullify federal law if it suits them -- suddenly looking to big, bad Washington for help. But that's the way the federal government works: Sure, it's large and bulky and sometimes bogged down by inefficient bureaucracy, but when something like this happens it sees to it that the consolidated power of the United States of America is there for our fellow Americans. No matter who or where they are.
Oh, and it should be mentioned that Andrew Breitbart lives in Los Angeles -- with the rest of the detached media that supposedly just doesn't give a crap about Alabama.