I'm starting to get the impression that one problem that the conservatives have with government (and thus, the problem we're seeing in New Orleans) is that conservatives honestly don't seem to understand what the federal government can do to fix things. Perhaps they're too busy thinking about their tax bill, or perhaps it's simply the level of their own incompetence (probably both); but it really does seem that these people just don't understand what should have been done differently. As if their conservatism is, in at least some part, based on their incompetence. And that they just don't understand how competent people get things done.
And this really explains much about why they are conservatives. Rather than greedy bastards who don't want to pay for the services they need, they appear to be incompetent bastards who really do see government projects as a moneyhole. Wasted tax dollars. Not because the money is wasted, per se. But simply because they fail to understand why these things are necessary, and how disasters can be lessened or even prevented. And that's why they attack both successful and unsuccessful government programs. Because they just don't understand how any of it works, and assume that it's all a giant boondoggle; the sole intent of which is to give other government people cushy government jobs (a claim I've heard from many conservatives). And they think that because they're just too stupid to understand why any of this is necessary.
And that's why many Republicans seem to see Bush's mistake being that he didn't get out with the PR campaign soon enough. He wasn't ready enough for the right kind of photo-ops; the right kind of speeches. As if, even now, they fail to understand what the government can do to fix things, beyond tossing out empty words, platitudes, and excuses. And if we're lucky, perhaps this might open their eyes and allow them to understand that the government really can do things that private individuals and organizations cannot do. And that it must.
But at best, that will be a small handful, and most will simply close their eyes and insist that Bush couldn't have done anything better. But they say this, not simply out of loyalty to Bush (though that is certainly an issue), and not just because they oppose government; but because they really don't understand how competent people can fix things, if given the resources to do so. And private citizens and organizations simply do not have the resources to handle this kind of catastrophe. And even state governments can't have the resources to handle this. Nor can it be contracted out to private industry. It can only be done with the nation united together, and that can only be done with a federal government. This kind of thing takes coordination and expertise and preparation, and that can only be done at the highest level.
And again, this isn't a political message. This is a statement of fact: People who don't think that government works, should not be put in positions responsible for a working government. Because if they don't understand how it works, they'll be unable to make it work. And that's exactly what we're seeing in New Orleans right now: People unable to make the system work.