Mickey Kaus is a Democrat and Ann Coulter is a Republican 

Mickey Kaus is a Democrat and Ann Coulter is a Republican

I know, I know. I've discovered the obvious.

But Kaus seems to think Coulter is actually mounting an argument about the most efficient way to help the poor. The federal government, she thinks, is always wasteful and inefficient. Taxpayers hate that, and it isn't even good for the intended beneficiaries of federal programs. Something else must be a lot better--for everyone; "competition," or state and local initiatives, or something.

So Kaus says: in the case of Katrina, the local and state officials were at least roughly as bad as the federal ones. Where is the competition in this situation, and where would it ever be in such a disaster?

Kaus, of course, is really a Democrat. He would like to make sure there is a bureaucracy in place that can actually prepare for a disaster--maybe a big bureaucracy, surely expensive, maybe even wasteful--as long as it can do the job. He thinks it probably has to be "federal" or central, and he now questions whether the states should have any independent authority at all.

It seems clear that Coulter would actually prefer that there be no public sector agency that was truly up to the job. It's just too expensive. She doesn't mind the failure of state and local governments so much, since there is not likely to be a demand for a super agency at the state or local level.

This doesn't mean she feels nothing for the victims of Katrina and other disasters. She probably hopes there are as few victims as possible, and they get as much (private sector/voluntary) help as possible. She may give generously in money or in other ways. She may even wish that disasters never happened (although it is more likely she thinks they teach us a damn good lesson). She just doesn't want expensive wasteful government to deal with it on any big scale. (Bruce Reed remembering Clinton: Compassionate conservativism means "I'd like to do a lot of things for you, but I just can't.") (scroll to Wednesday, Sept. 7).

This still leaves a question: does she want the federal government to be prepared for a terrorist attack on a U.S. city, or not? Wasn't that one of Bush's main mandates after 9/11? Isn't there a lot of overlap between what would be required in that case and what was required on the Gulf Coast? Didn't FEMA demonstrate that it is unprepared after four years, period?

For Coulter, I suspect, as for a lot of people--especially Republicans, the 9/11 images said "that could be me, and my loved ones," whereas the Katrina images did not say that.

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