Journalism

New York Times: 'A Big Storm Requires Big Government'

It's not that the GOP nominee thinks that federal disaster mitigation and response is frequently less effective than locally directed efforts. No, it's the opposite--because federal coordination is "vital," this Republican wants to euthanize it, because that's just how venal he and his party are.

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The Grey Lady trolls libertarians with this morning's editorial. Let's just focus on one sentence that–all political philosophy aside–is Exhibit A for how politics makes people stupid:

Disaster coordination is one of the most vital functions of "big government," which is why Mitt Romney wants to eliminate it.

Which is why Romney wants to eliminate it. It's not that the GOP nominee thinks that federal disaster mitigation and response is frequently less effective than locally directed efforts. No, it's the opposite–because federal coordination is "vital," this Republican wants to euthanize it, because that's just how venal he and his party are.

This is the mirror image to the ludicrous right-wing claim that because President Barack Obama is the son of an anti-colonialist, he therefore governs with evident malice towards America. Rather than trying to understand why people might disagree with their public policy preferences, adherents of this rhetorical tack are instead trying to circle the wagons around their own tribe, consigning everyone else to the category of Evil or Stupid. This isn't an argument, it's an admission that you've given up arguing.

In the event, the Times' assertion about Romney's desire to "eliminate" the Federal Emergency Management Agency rests entirely on this exchange at a GOP primary debate last year:

As David Frum has advised,

Watch without prejudice, though, and you realize…he evaded a question from CNN's John King about FEMA by offering an answer that generically endorsed federalism without committing Romney on FEMA either one way or the other.

It's a familiar politician's trick. 

In a shock to no one who actually attempts to understand one of the two major-party candidates running for president in the United States, the Romney campaign announced yesterday that, no, he won't eliminate FEMA.

BTW, the federal government spends about $10 billion a year on disaster coordination and relief. So the New York Times is defending "big government" by sticking up for 1/380th of its annual cost. It's less than persuasive.