MINERAL, Va. — The whole problem with the Nanny State is, well, it just doesn't work.
After Hurricane Katrina six years ago this week, city, state and federal nannies were viciously attacked by the media for their failure to shelter the helpless and unfeathered ducklings who had refused to leave low-lying areas of New Orleans. As if stark warnings that a monster hurricane of historic proportions was about to hit dead-on a city that is technically below sea level wasn't enough.
Apparently President George W. Bush had not read the penumbras that have gathered around the oath of office that he must preserve, protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic — including any weather-related systems or other unanticipated meteorological events.
Not to downplay the horrific damage caused by Katrina, but, seriously, it was hardly a political event. Only in the self-absorbed minds of politicians and the adoring media could an act of God miraculously become something that falls within the purview of Washington politics.
Just this week, Rep. Michele Bachmann commented that God must be angry at politicians after the recent hex of natural disasters, and the reporters following her didn't get the joke. They reported it as if it were just one more example of her desire to reshape America into some sort of theocracy.
Of course our Founding Fathers envisioned neither a theocracy nor a Nanny State, which is just the female version of a theocracy. Think Taliban — except women are in charge, men are oppressed into submission, and instead of turbans, everybody wears helmets.
Under the cruel government the founders intended, people are responsible for taking care of themselves, their families and their neighbors. They fill bags with sand and build dykes before floods. They stock up on food. They check in on one another. It is not a taxable, government event.
People were not supposed to stand around on street corners all helpless hoping that some alphabet soup of federal agencies might arrive before the floods and winds. Anyway, anybody who hadn't gotten out of New Orleans after all the stark warnings should have known full well what they were in for. Or, at least, they should have been nominated for the annual Darwin Awards.
Now comes Irene.
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — the highest Nanny State's High Priest — warned of catastrophe and ordered his subjects evacuated from low-lying parts of New York.
President Obama — the Nanny State's Messiah — raced back to the White House from his fancy vacation to take control of the meteorological situation. Having taught us what to eat, what not to eat, when to wash our hands, how to sneeze, what cars we should buy and what trucks we should not buy, shepherding us through this crisis was the least he could do.
From the White House, he spoke to reporters, issued innumerable statements and warned people to take cover and prepare for the apocalypse.
But, as they say, with every storm cloud, there is a silver lining.
Turns out that being the "Downgrade Administration" doesn't just apply to America's bond rating. The Obama hurricane was downgraded to Category 1, then to tropical storm, then to subtropical storm with winds up to 50 mph. That's like riding down the street and holding your hand out the window!
Now that might be a campaign he could win on.
• Charles Hurt's column appears Wednesday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.