Monday, February 20, 2006

Ron Brownstein Column In LAT Gives GOP Committee Its Due

Kudos (for once) to the L.A. Times' Washington columnist Ronald Brownstein for his excellent Sunday column paying tribute to the special committee of House Republicans which tore the Bush Administration to pieces over its dilatory handling of Hurricane Katrina.

It shows once again, among other things, that the LAT's best columns are written outside the editorial pages, where the weeks and months go by with little or nothing distinguished under Andres Martinez, the editorial page director who fired Pulitzer Prize winners as part of a Stalin-like purge.

Brownstein gives credit where it's due to the report of the committee headed by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.). This is the investigatory committee which the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, refused to appoint any Democrats to, because she said it would be a whitewash.

Brownstein suggests this raises some questions also about Pelosi's competence. Those questions should have been raised long before, because Pelosi gives very little sound leadership in Congress to the Democrats, a party that certainly needs it.

When the secretive Bush Administration refused, as might have been expected, to cooperate with Davis' committee, the Virginian went right ahead anyway with his investigation and was able to document how the Administration was caught napping by the hurricane.

The sharply-worded report shows how the disastrous levee breaks in New Orleans were observed and reported to a sleeping White House, which did nothing while President Bush was on vacation.

Brownstein concludes, "The strong work by Davis and his colleagues shouldn't be the last word in Katrina inquiries. Pelosi was myopic in boycotting this panel, but she's right that a government failure this profound deserves an independent commission. In the meantime, Pelosi should remember that even when Democrats suspect the deck is stacked, they retain an obligation to represent their constituents. Seeking to undermine the credibility of Davis' investigation, she only tarnished her own."

This is probably not the last time in this mid-term election year where the Republicans in Congress join in maligning an administration which in many respects has hardly been a model of good government. Without a little independence, the Republicans in Congress are likely to lose out in the elections, and they know it.

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