Originally created 09/30/05

Playing Katrina politics

There is extremism in both political parties. But since they've been voted out of power in Washington, Democrats have let extremists take control of their party and extremism to blind the party to reason.

The latest example is the Nancy Pelosi-led boycott of congressional hearings into why the national response to the disasters wrought by hurricane Katrina was, as President Bush said, so "inadequate."

Only a handful of House Democrats from the storm-impacted states showed up this week to grill former Federal Emergency Management Agency head Michael Brown. The turnout for subsequent witnesses was no better, as Democrats, for the most part, heeded the boycott strategy of House leader Pelosi of California.

She and other top Democrats claimed that the hearings, run by the GOP majority, would be a whitewash for the White House. Instead they urged that an independent panel be named to investigate - as was done with 9-11.

Actually, the 9-11 commission was pretty much of a bust. It came up with no findings or recommendations that Congress couldn't have developed on its own. That bipartisan panel, in a very bipartisan way, skipped over or played down information that might have embarrassed either the Clinton or Bush administrations: Military intelligence program "Able Danger," for instance, could have exposed the terrorist plot a year before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but the 9-11 Commission missed it completely.

In any event, forming another unelected commission to look into Katrina is a bad idea. Republicans were right to insist that Congress do its own inquiry and oversight work.

Democrats need to accept the new reality and come to the table. Imagine the pasting Big Media elites would have dealt if minority Republicans had boycotted Watergate and Iran-Contra hearings on grounds Democrats were engaging in a partisan vendetta against a GOP White House.

As matters now stand though, it's the Democrats who are playing partisan politics with Katrina, not Republicans. And they're not doing a very good job of it, either.


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