Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Dad’s wisdom

During an appearance to appeal for Katrina relief funds in Houston yesterday, former President George Bush was asked how he felt about the unending criticism over the White House response to the hurricane, which has raged in much of the press this week.

Mr. Bush said as a father he does not like the criticism leveled at his son, President Bush, but added, “As a president, it goes with the territory,” according to the Associated Press.

Clinton tag team

Hmmm. Could this portend political maneuvers to come? At that very same fundraising appeal yesterday, former President Bill Clinton was also asked about the government’s response to Katrina.

“I think there should be an analysis of what happened.” Mr. Clinton said, benevolently adding, “The time to do that is after some time passes.”

His wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, was in the aggressor’s role, however, calling the hurricane “a wake-up call.” The New York Democrat is already urging the White House to set up a “Katrina Commission” in a letter sent to Mr. Bush.

“It has become increasingly evident that our nation was not prepared,” Mrs. Clinton wrote, according to Agence France-Presse yesterday.

Mrs. Clinton also claimed that the pace of relief efforts “seems to confirm that our ability to respond to cataclysmic disasters has not been adequately addressed.”

She plans to propose legislation to separate the Federal Emergency Management Agency from the Department of Homeland Security and make it into another Cabinet-level agency.

A cultural moment

Impoverished Afghanistan will give $100,000 for Katrina relief efforts, the U.S. Embassy has announced.

U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann thanked the Afghan people Sunday during a ceremony at which the aid was pledged by the government on behalf of the people of Afghanistan.

“Their compassion and generosity bears testimony to the strength of the ties between our two peoples,” Mr. Neumann said, according to Reuters news agency.

Greatest show on Earth

Is the U.S. Senate getting ready to be the “world’s greatest deliberative body” or a political circus during upcoming confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge John G. Roberts Jr.?

Newsday’s Raymond Keating wants to know, advising viewers and voters to “keep an eye on how their own senators behave,” particularly Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.

“Schumer’s problem is he seems to forget he is not president and does not get to pick who sits on the federal bench. He also twists the Senate’s ‘advice and consent’ role on court selections, promising to further undermine confidence in the process and the courts.

“New York’s senior senator portrays himself as moderation’s great defender. … Schumer summed up the activist view: ‘The Supreme Court makes law.’” Mr. Keating writes. “That’s a gross misunderstanding, or misrepresentation, of our system of government. The Supreme Court is not supposed to make law, but to apply the law and the Constitution.”

“It’s also clear that Schumer evaluates judicial nominees based on a set of ideological issues. That’s reflected in the long list of questions Schumer handed Roberts, seeking the judge’s views on topics like campaign finance, abortion, the death penalty and environmental policy. If such questions become the norm, then nomination hearings will continue to degrade into vicious political games,” Mr. Keating concluded.

Questions of the day

The National Pro-Life Action Center has five questions for Judge John G. Roberts Jr. that could provide the nation with a “foundational understanding of Judge Roberts’ judicial temperament without asking him to ‘forecast’ or ‘prejudge’ any cases that may come before the high court,” says director Paul Chaim Schenck.

The group wants to know:

• Do basic human rights come only from government or are they rooted in something that transcends government?

• Is man’s inherent human nature fixed, or does raw political power determine who is and is not a member of the human family?

• Is law merely the construct of jurists and lawmakers, or is it based first on principles of morals and justice?

• Is the proper role of the judiciary to restrain/limit itself to interpreting law or does it possess de facto legislative powers?

• Should the judiciary share power equally with the other two branches of government (the legislative and executive) or should its powers transcend them?

End of finger-pointing

It’s time to neutralize the caustic Katrina blame game, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Dennis Byrne yesterday.

“The ease and earnestness with which people express the knee-jerk belief that one of the most destructive and powerful forces in nature could have been defeated ‘if only …’ belies a troubling level of ignorance or naivete,” he writes.

“To suggest that all ‘they’ have to do to beat such a force is to build a sea wall 10 feet higher is screwy. So is the idea that all the food, water and shelter that a million refugees need can be positioned, as if overnight, within a day’s ride of the destruction.”

“The bigger story is the determination and compassion of the rescuers. So is the patience and courage of all those stranded, struggling, homeless people who have nothing left. How many of us would have so patiently tolerated such conditions? When patience overcomes desperation, it is a huge, moving story,” Mr. Byrne wrote.

“This is no apologia … Rather it is a disagreement with the simplistic view that ‘they’ can prevent or ameliorate every imaginable calamity. And if ‘they’ don’t, it’s proof of someone’s incompetence, greed or callousness.”

• Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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