Wednesday, September 07, 2005

CITY AND STATE At the risk of dwelling on the obvious: To say that the federal government failed miserably in the first few days after Hurricane Katrina isn't to imply that mayors and governors did everything--or anything--right.

But to focus on federal failures isn't to engage in blinkered thinking; the decision of media outlets (and bloggers) to spend more time highlighting FEMA ineptitude than local mismanagement isn't the result of left-wing bias or anti-Bush sentiment.

Failures of the national government are simply more salient to those of us who live outside the gulf region than are local mistakes. They're more newsworthy.

Because if FEMA is being used as a patronage tool, or the Department of Homeland Security is broken, we all have a stake in seeing that questions get asked, and that whatever problems exist get explored and fixed.

There's only one federal government, and it's responsible to all of us. That's why stories about breakdowns at the national level deserve to wind up on the front page, and why local failures of a similar magnitude get less attention.

It's as simple as that.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.