Today Show's Tide Shifts: Relief Efforts Out, Blaming Federal Government In

September 2nd, 2005 7:20 AM

Anyone seen Kathleen Blanco lately? Remember her, the Democratic Governor of Louisiana, the lady who put in a few shaky, overwhelmed performances at the beginning of the Katrina catastrophe? She seems to have disappeared off the MSM radar screen.

How about the Mayor of New Orleans, another Democrat? How many Americans can even name him? Compare and contrast with the role Rudy Giuliani played in the wake of 9/11.

Instead, Today's focus this morning was almost entirely on the shortcomings of the federal [read Republican-led] government in its response to Katrina.

Katie Couric spoke of "the growing chorus of criticism over the government's response to this national crisis."

Chorus-leader Couric first grilled FEMA Director Michael Brown. Criticized about the lack of law and order, Brown said that by Sunday there would be 30,000 National Guard troops on the ground. That wasn't good enough for Katie, who after saying she didn't want to "belabor the point" went on to do just that, carping that "it seems like a pretty long lag time."

Katie then turned to the lack of funding to improve the levee system. "Why weren't federal funds allocated for that?"

Brown: "with all due respect to you, I'm focused on life-saving efforts now."

A clenched-jaw Couric cut him off rudely: "but that might have saved lives, Mr. Brown."

Next up was an interview of Tim Russert by Matt Lauer. He joined in the chorus of criticism, focusing on the lack of pre-positioning of supplies. "This is the United States of America appearing to be incapable of rescuing and saving its own people after five days."

Lauer then offered up some editorializing of his own. He noted that "the great majority of the peole we see suffering now are black and poor."

He then added: "these are the people who don't have the safety net in their daily lives. How much of a wake-up call does this have to be for people in our country?"

No safety net? It's been estimated that since the beginning of LBJ's "War on Poverty" in the '60s, the federal government has spent $5-6 trillion on a variety of 'safety net' programs, from Medicaid, to AFDC, to food stamps, etc.

Even Bill Clinton, who signed an historic welfare reform bill, was eventually forced to recognize that making people dependent on government had been a failure, exacerbating the very problems the programs sought to address.

But Lauer seemed to draw just the opposite conclusion. When he spoke of the lack of a safety net and a "wake up" call, the apparent implication was that the federal government should be spending more than ever on welfare.

There undoubtedly have been mistakes made on all levels of government, and there will be plenty of time to analyze and criticize.

But the MSM already seem to be developing their strategy: focus the criticism almost entirely on the federal government, rather than on the notoriously corrupt, Democrat-led New Orleans and Lousiana governments. And offer up as a solution more government welfare spending. When socialism fails, try more socialism.

Finkelstein has degrees from Cornell University and Harvard Law School.He lives in Ithaca, NY where he hosts "Right Angle," a local political talk show. Finkelstein specializes in exposing liberal bias at NBC's Today Show.