THE BLOG
07/06/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

More GOP History Re-Writes: Katrina, the oil spill and a failed bombing attempt


The BP oil spill is not hurricane Katrina. The failed Times Square car-bombing attempt is not an example a failed system.

As usual the GOP has not let these facts get in the way of inventing its own narrative in yet another attempt to play politics and attack President Obama's effectiveness as a leader.

You might have thought that former Bush FEMA Director Michael "Brownie" Brown was discussing his expertise about everything not to do in a crisis, but instead he hit the airwaves to compare the Bush Administration's "heckuva job" during hurricane Katrina with the Obama administration response to the oil spill. Brownie asserted that while the federal response during Katrina was quick, things moved slow in the initial stages of the oil spill and left the Coast Guard hanging. Brown also accused the Obama Administration of "playing politics" and pandering to the left with the announcement that all future drilling plans should be put on hold until a full investigation is completed. Clearly in Brownie's alternate reality, the statements from three republican governors, (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charlie Crist and Alabama governor Bob Riley), that they too want to re-think drilling in the aftermath of this tragedy, are irrelevant.

Putting aside questions about his credibility on anything other than Arabian horses, let's acknowledge that there was plenty of blame to go around for the tragically inadequate response to hurricane Katrina. However, there is simply no comparison to what is happening now in the gulf and the images of American citizens, children and babies suffering and dying in the hot sun, desperately in need of water while Brownie sat somewhere drinking diet coke with ice. To this day, we have not seen a full accounting as to why the Bush Administration was able to drop food into Iraq on the same day we invaded, yet unable to get food and water to our own people on our own soil.

We know that the BP spill was caused by an explosion, the full extent and impact of which could not immediately be known but was immediately investigated by the Administration, in coordination with several agencies and BP. Multiple leaks have now been identified and as of this morning there is new information about the impact of the spill, because of the work being done. Aided by the U.S. Navy and others, the U.S. Coast Guard immediately began search and rescue operations and damage assessment. Will we likely learn more about what worked and what didn't in subsequent investigations? Sure. But, from the command center operations that were quickly put in place to coordinate with state and local governments, to the use of new techniques to break up the oil, to ensuring that workers receive necessary protections from the hazards of the clean up work, to the President quickly making resources available to the states impacted by the spill, this was a competent response that clearly demonstrated an understanding of both the political and practical lessons of Katrina.
The second wave of attacks come from a parade of conservatives who have been quick to jump on the response to the failed bombing attempt in New York. In an interview with MSNBC, former New York Governor Pataki charged, "This is another case where this administration, we are responding after something is attempted... I think this administration just has got to change its approach."

I'd agree that the Administration's initial public response to the Christmas Day bombing attempt was insufficient. And, as the Administration has itself acknowledged, the incident revealed holes in our system and failures on the part of key agencies to effectively coordinate information that could have prevented the incident. While we may again learn that mistakes were made, overall the policies and procedures put in place after 9/11 succeeded in preventing the detonation of a weapon of mass destruction in Times Square. From the street vendor who noticed something wasn't right to the NYPD officer, to the Joint terrorism task force, Customs and Border Patrol, NYPD, FBI, DOJ, WH and Department of Homeland Security, the system worked. This is a win for all of us.

A suspect was captured within 48 hours and is being questioned. Now, the last time I checked it was under a republican president that Osama Bin Laden slipped through our fingers as we diverted resources from capturing him to attack a country that had nothing to do with Bin Laden. If Pataki really wants to play the blame game, then let's look at the failure of both the former governor and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani to implement key recommendations after the first successful attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, (Pataki became governor of New York in 1995), leaving our first responders vulnerable to the same malfunctioning radios in 2001.

The GOP needs to get itself in check and recognize that every incident is not a legitimate excuse to attack the president. By now we all know that their strategy is to take down the Obama presidency at any cost, even if it means attacking the brave men and women who are working hard to protect our environment, our health, our safety and our nation. In the aftermath of both incidents we may learn that there are reasonable criticisms to be made, and lessons to be learned. Those lessons should be based on the truth, not a fictitious GOP re-writes of history. Let's also be strong enough not to play right into the hands of terrorists whose goal is to destroy our country and our values by creating fear and division among us.