Make us your home page

America's double disaster: Ron Paul and Eric Cantor

It sort of makes you wonder if Ron Paul had been in the House of Representatives back on Dec. 7, 1941, if Mr. Crankypants would have whined about spending money to rebuild the U.S. Navy, arguing: "Why can't we just plug the holes in the USS Arizona and dry it out?"

But this is 2011, and the national bogeyman seems to be the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has tea party pied pipers like Paul and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in full caterwauling mode over what is clearly a dark government conspiracy to help a bunch of lazy, shiftless people who irresponsibly allowed themselves to be flooded out of their homes.

And lets not even get started on those layabouts in Joplin, Mo., who intentionally built their residences directly in the path of tornadoes just so they could get fat and happy mooching off the taxpayers.

Oh, the senseless waste of it all!

Paul, who makes It's A Wonderful Life's penurious Mr. Potter look like Daddy Warbucks, and Cantor, the Eddie Haskell of the GOP, have led the charge against FEMA's effectiveness and its budget woes in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

With its budget stretched to the limit after numerous natural disasters this year, FEMA is down to about $800 million in its coffers, a drop in the bucket to address the devastation along the Eastern Seaboard, which has claimed 46 lives, left more than 4 million people without power, flooded cities and caused billions in property damage.

Never missing a chance to politicize a tragedy, Cantor said why of course Congress would be more than happy to provide some supplemental funding for FEMA — just as long as the Obama administration came up with funding cuts to other programs to make up the difference.

This would be a bit like Cantor happening upon a car wreck and offering to help the bleeding victim just as soon as he sells his house to pay for the stitches.

Paul, who if he had his way would retrofit the military with muskets, accused FEMA of being an inept, wasteful spending busybody intruding into the affairs of people simply because their lives have imploded.

Asked about Paul's assessment of FEMA, the insightful, thoughtful Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy replied: "I think he's an idiot." Truth is always a swell defense.

The fact is, this isn't your Katrina's FEMA. Under Craig Fugate, FEMA has performed well in meeting the needs of Americans caught up in nature's fury.

Maybe it had something to do with New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie noting that anyone who would hold up FEMA funding was also an idiot that caused Cantor to have a change of mind.

Eventually Cantor, who apparently hadn't learned the lessons of the debt ceiling tiff, which made the United States look like two drunks squabbling over a beer tab, came to his senses and began to back off attempting to link providing aid to millions of Americans in distress to additional budget cuts.

Paul continued to prattle on, arguing FEMA is a prime example of citizens' "dependency on the federal government." When you have eight states ravaged by a hurricane, rivers are overflowing their banks, power outages are rampant, and roads and bridges are washed away, where should people look to for help?

The parks and recreation department?

What Paul can't dither about in public too much — because he knows he might be regarded as the addled old uncle locked away in the attic — is that he has played footsie-wootsie with the conspiracy theory/lunatic fringe wing of the political spectrum that believes FEMA is really a powerful despotic government agency with unrestrained power to enslave the populace.

That's ridiculous, of course. Everybody knows that's the National Endowment for the Arts' job.

The working theory from the black helicopter crowd, which to no one's surprise was embraced for a while by the tin-foil-hat king Glenn Beck, was that FEMA had constructed concentration camps across the country, presumably to imprison everyone from Keith Olbermann, to the New York Times editorial board, to anyone in the tea party who claims to have a certified copy of Barack Obama's Kenyan birth certificate.

This may explain in part why the tea party movement in some recent polls is beginning to be regarded by the public as having less credibility than Baghdad Bob.

Perhaps the National Hurricane Center might want to name its next storm after Ron Paul — an all-wet, incoherent blob fueled by hot air with no clear sense of direction that scares the living bejabbers out of people.

America's double disaster: Ron Paul and Eric Cantor 09/01/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 1, 2011 10:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours