Katrina (D-New Orleans)

From the Moveable Type blog; horribly reasoned, overemotional, wretched writing, and I haven’t voted for a Republican since.

Sadly, there’s linkrot all over the place; I’ve updated this and that where it’s appropriate, but there are plenty of places where there were links where the writing simply no longer exists.

This week may have been a watershed in my personal politics.

I’ve never been a traditional conservative anyway. There are many things about conservatism – particularly the blind faith in the private sector as the solution for everything under the sun – that have never sat well with me. I have never voted for George W Bush, but I’ve never been ready to wholeheartedly support the Democratic Party either, mostly because the overwhelming sense I’ve gotten from the Democrats is that they are a group of bumbling incompetents who couldn’t be trusted to organize a drinking game in a brewery.

And I have always had a measure of sympathy – and, at times in my life, out and out support – for the Christian Coalition and its politics. I am anti-abortion (I won’t even dress that up in its “pro-life” jargon). I am a believer in faith-based charities (I might even plug one somewhere else on this site). I am, in many senses, a religious traditionalist, and so many of my friends and family fall into the general camp of “if Christianity was good enough for the Founding Fathers, it is good enough for me.”

Which I can get behind. I mean, I would be able to get behind it more if it hadn’t been deism that was good enough for the Founding Fathers, but that’s another debate for another day.

But, if I’m going to be able to take this “compassionate conservative” president that we have and claim him as my own, then I need to have evidence of his compassionate conservatism.

And he’s had his chance.

And he has blown it in the most tragically spectacular fashion possible.

The flooding of New Orleans, when the post-mortem comes down, is a disaster that every single branch of government dedicated to protect and provide for its citizens will bear blame for, from the parish and city governments to the federal government itself. So this may be about the incompetence of a Republican federal government.

But raw incompetence is one thing. It might even be forgivable.

Bald-faced lying in the face of death and destruction, for the sake of protecting political position, is something else ENTIRELY.

And what has not only affected me, but shaken much of my belief to its core, has been the shameless attempts by this administration to deny that anybody foresaw an event like this happening – when it has been predicted for YEARS. Any of us who watched the hurricane coverage when Ivan came crashing through in 2004 heard the horror stories of what would happen if that storm keyed on New Orleans, and breathed a sigh of relief when the storm passed that city by and sure disaster was averted. Do these people take me for an idiot?

It has been the persistent failure of Federal authorities to recognize even the most basic facts on the ground, even as anybody who could turn on CNN or Fox News (or even the Weather Channel, for crying out loud!) could see the desparation and the tragedy unfolding. Do these people have no conscience?

And I have had to observe both of these things in the face of the argument I have been patiently buying into for the past four years that FEMA had to be folded into the Department of Homeland Security for the cause of streamlining our response to every kind of possible calamity – terrorist or otherwise – and now all of those plans have been shown to be folly.

If you are familiar with Andrew Sullivan at all, you have your opinions of him. Many of those opinions might not be exactly polite. Many of those opinions might even be right. But I have a hard time reading this and not nodding and saying to myself “that sounds about right”.

Especially after hearing the juxtaposition of Washington pols patting one another on the back and saying “job well done” while the local leaders on the ground can’t get through an interview without breaking down completely.

Look, I could keep linking for DAYS here. I’ve been reading enough to link for days. But I have to make a point here.

I preached in church this morning. The text I preached off of, in putting the Great Commission into the context of church growth, was 1 Corinthians 9:16-23. I concentrated on the idea that Paul was willing to be selfless in how he shared the Gospel – to give up his own rights to make sure those who received the Word from him would have as many freedoms of their own as possible. “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.

Which is how my read of the Christian faith gets, the more I try to live it. We are supposed to be – literally – public servants. We are supposed to so order our lives so that our own priorities are placed as far down the order as possible, so that Christ can be glorified.

And in this hour, when the needs of humanity are placed in front of us so starkly, I see the leadership of our federal government – a leadership that has appealed to the very faith in Christ I claim as a means to get elected – continuing persistently to preserve their self-interests in the face of death and destruction.

How can I possibly be honest in my own faith and ever support them again?

UPDATE: Here’s a far better roundup on the lies and/or incompetence from the likes of Chertoff and Brown than I could ever come up with, from the blogosphere’s appointed king of hurricane-blogging. Warning: don’t read if you can’t take repeated cussing by the righteously indignant.