Thursday, December 12, 2013

Obama's Katrinas (Yes, there's more than one)

This looks like a failed website right?
So far we have seen Obamacare compared to Hitler and to Slavery, events that took place before most people in the US were born. Now I want to look at a more contemporary comparison in which the Affordable Care Act is seen as Obama's Katrina. Here is the New York Times:
The disastrous rollout of his health care law not only threatens the rest of his agenda but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency.
This is a completely mistaken analogy as it utterly misses why Katrina was such a disaster for President Bush. As Digby put it, "The reason Bush was tarred with his Katrina response is because he acted like he didn't give a damn. And it came out of a long series of problems in Iraq and after revelations that his administration had blown off warnings about 9/11." By contrast, Obama clearly cares about the Affordable Care Act as it is the defining piece of his presidency, and will likely be remembered decades after he has left office. In addition, it is unclear how problems with a website can be legitimately compared to a natural disaster that destroyed a city. Furthermore, Obamacare appears to be at least the 8th Katrina that Obama has weathered. From Think Progress
1. BP Oil Spill
“[I]t’s getting baked in a little bit in the media that BP was President Obama’s Katrina.” [NBC News, Brian Williams, 8/29/10]
2. Bank Bailout
“A CHARMING visit with Jay Leno won’t fix it. A 90 percent tax on bankers’ bonuses won’t fix it. Firing Timothy Geithner won’t fix it. Unless and until Barack Obama addresses the full depth of Americans’ anger with his full arsenal of policy smarts and political gifts, his presidency and, worse, our economy will be paralyzed. It would be foolish to dismiss as hyperbole the stark warning delivered by Paulette Altmaier of Cupertino, Calif., in a letter to the editorpublished by The Times last week: ‘President Obama may not realize it yet, but his Katrina moment has arrived.’” [New York Times, Frank Rich, 3/21/09]
3. Benghazi Consulate Attack And The IRS
“When House Republicans decided to reopen investigations into the White House and State Department response to the attacks on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, few thought it would inflict any serious damage to the president. Then came an admission from the IRS that it had unfairly singled out conservative groups for scrutiny during the 2012 campaign…This is President Obama’s Katrina moment. If he cannot regain control of the narrative, he will face the same loss of public confidence suffered by President Bush.” [Baltimore Sun, 5/19/13, Todd Eberly]
4. Hurricane Sandy
“I want to show you this report by our own David Lee Miller of a public housing unit in New Jersey, and — I’m sorry, in Brooklyn — devastated. This is Obama’s Katrina. And now the people are seeing that the gas lines and the suffering and the millions without power, the millions without heat, the millions — the ten and thousands that have lost their homes, and the cries for help.” [Fox News, Sean Hannity, 11/5/12]
5. Unemployment
“‘Will The Unemployment Crisis Be Obama’s Katrina?’ There’s a Category 5 storm about to make landfall, and the president and the officials in charge of preparing for the approaching disaster don’t seem to be particularly worried. Sound familiar? Just as Katrina exposed critical weaknesses in the priorities and competence of the Bush administration, the unfolding unemployment disaster is threatening to do the same for the Obama White House.” [Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, 11/23/09]
6. The Underwear Bomber
“To the list of phrases it may be best for political leaders to avoid after a major security incident, add ‘the system worked’ right after ‘Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.’ Just as the public did not really share President George W. Bush’s assessment of how things were going after Hurricane Katrina, so too was there a good deal of skepticism when President Obama’s homeland security secretary declared faith in a system that failed to stop a guy who tried to blow up a passenger jet on Christmas Day.” [New York Times, 12/29/09]
7. Haiti Earthquake
“‘Haiti: Obama’s Katrina.’ Four years ago the initial medical response to Hurricane Katrina was ill equipped, understaffed, poorly coordinated and delayed. Criticism of the paltry federal efforts was immediate and fierce. Unfortunately, the response to the latest international disaster in Haiti has been no better, compounding the catastrophe.” [Wall Street Journal, 1/25/10]
8. Obamacare
“‘Health Law Rollout’s Stumbles Draw Parallels to Bush’s Hurricane Response.’ President Obama is now threatened by a similar toxic mix. The disastrous rollout of his health care law not only threatens the rest of his agenda but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency.” [New York Times, 11/14/13]
At some point, journalists need to stop trotting out these tired cliches. They don't really shed any insight into the issue, and just serve to confuse the readers and watchers of these various media outlets. Clearly the Affordable Care Act has problems, but these problems can't be effectively addressed if people continue to make historically inaccurate comparisons that just obscure the real problems. Then again, maybe that is the point of all these false analogies. 

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