Regarding the Haiti disaster, there have been a fair number of commentators asking “is Haiti Obama’s Katrina?”
Just like every political scandal has been compared to Watergate (nearly all contemporary political scandals end in “gate”–an homage to Watergate), every national disaster from now until pigs fly will be compared to Hurricane Katrina. But really, can we all just take a deep breath?
1) Is Haiti the 51st state?
2) Is Haiti the United States’ constitutional responsibility?
3) Is Haiti included in FEMA’s National Response Framework?
4) Do disasters in Haiti require the U.S. President to issue disaster declarations?
5) Does FEMA include Haiti in their planning scenarios?
If the answer to any of these questions is YES, then we have a conversation. If not, let’s move on.
President Obama is going to do all he can to help the people of Haiti. It will be incredibly difficult and President Obama deserves a break from the endless chatter of political commentators (just as President Bush did during the Katrina response).
And while the comparisons are interesting and in some cases not far off (do New Orleans or Louisiana have governments that are much better performing than Haiti? Not really), it really is silly to start comparing the two very different situations…not to mention slightly unseemly given the enormous death toll (estimates go as high as 100,000) likely to come out of Haiti (compared to 1,500 deaths in Louisiana).