Friday, December 22, 2006


E. J. Dionne goes Bi-partisan

E.J. Dionne can be such a putz at times. In today’s love letter to Mayor Bloomberg, he praises the Mayor’s new plan to help the poor of NY:

“In New York this week, Bloomberg announced a new initiative to fight poverty, including a Center for Economic Opportunity and $150 million annually that would, among other things, provide incentives for the poor to stay in school, to build up their personal savings and to get preventive medical care.”

Not to be too cynical but $150 million doesn’t even buy you a Bridge to Nowhere. Accordingly, Mr. Dionne cautions us that “Bloomberg has not launched a Great Society experiment, and the importance of his initiative should not be exaggerated.”

…although that is exactly what Mr. Dionne is doing. Of course, it wouldn’t be an E. J. Dionne column if he didn’t include at least one slam at those who don’t think the federal government should be relied on as the primary caretaker.

In the wake of the handling of Hurricane Katrina, Republicans will also have to convince voters they respect government enough to demand that it perform competently.”

In the wake of Katrina a significant portion of the populace of New Orleans has not returned. Since they haven’t apparently forsaken the USA, can we possibly conclude that they are not returning to a city with a Democratic administration located in a state with a Democratic administration because maybe, just maybe, those administrations reacted to Katrina like the proverbial deer-in-headlights?

Mr. Dionne tries to make the point throughout that innovation in government needs to be encouraged:

Daring to innovate means risking failure. Failure generates bad headlines, even charges of scandal -- and the strong possibility that the pioneering politician will lose the next election.”

What he could have added was that results can also be mis-reported as failures to fit the reporters/columnists own bias and mistakes can be recast as lies. He also didn’t mention the President’s attempt at Social Security reform, perhaps because he has been a constant critic of such attempts at innovation.

He closes:

But after six years in which clubhouse politics produced ideologically driven policies that were neither practical nor evidence-based, they are buzzwords that should have a future in Washington.”

After six years? I, for one, think policies should be ideologically driven; after all, I vote for candidates based in large part on a shared ideology. But if he is going to throw out a timeline, perhaps he could have expanded it. Because I’d have enjoyed reading about the Era of Innovation that apparently was the Clinton Administration. Exhibit 1: the “practical” Health Care Initiative honchoed by now-Senator Clinton herself.

But maybe that’s the subject of a follow-up column.

The best Katrina columns were John Tierney's in the NYT advocating for WEMA (Wal-Mart Emergency Management Agency). Wal-Mart did a lot better of getting necessary supplies to rescuers and victims than did the government.
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