Ezra Klein: Ideological Casualties

Over at the blog of my soon-to-be employer, they’ve got a great discussion of the ideological ramifications of Katrina, both for big government liberalism and small government conservatism. Bush, of course, has been this strange mixture of government growth and administrative incompetence, almost as if he’s running a kamikaze mission to prove the Republican case against government. But conservatives, generally, are all for the private market and individual charity. If Bush really was so uncomfortable with government involvement, he could still do a bang-up job relying on his church/industry connections to create a parallel and powerful rescue effort. The government could take care of the basics, but the private and theological spheres could provide much of the material, cash, and space. In doing, Bush would help discredit Big Government and legitimize the conservative philosophy.
He hasn’t. And that he’s hasn’t demonstrates his basic absence of a driving ideology. He’s neither able to effectively deploy government or call on his friends outside of it. He’s just incompetent, as I said before, a small man in a big office. He speaks the language of small government conservatism because it gets him elected, pushes big government solutions because they prove easiest, but is so separated and uninterested in the whole enterprise that the result is a wreck of incoherence and unexpected outcomes. So when something like Katrina comes around, he’s neither creative enough to deal with it in an innovative way or competent enough to deal with it in the old way. So he just doesn’t really deal with it.
Ezra Klein: Ideological Casualties