January 22, 2016
You knew it was coming. Governor Rick Snyder would be Katrina’ed over the Flint water crisis. “Heck of a job, Governor,” hooted the ever-reliable liberal Detroit Free Press on Jan 10th, evoking the meme of President G.W. Bush. “Callous insensitive” repeats the good old Freep, making sure the party line narrative not only remains intact but is deployed against Michigan’s Republican Governor.
“Katrina’ed” is a good term. It means “exploiting a catastrophe to unfairly blame political opponents for a disaster caused by the accuser’s party.” It can even mean the construction of a complete phony alternate reality. In the case of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans…
Hey, let’s play a little game called “Guess that Party!” First off, below sea-level New Orleans had been warned for decades about the danger of hurricanes and flooding. Nothing was done while the city was run for decades by Guess that Party! Democrats. During the crisis Guess that Party!—Democrat Mayor Ray Nagin’s incompetence was the proximate cause for the city’s inability to maintain basic order. Responsibility for taking superintending control over the city lay with dithering Louisiana Governor Guess that Party!—Democrat Kathleen Blanco.
But the media, by that time virtually an adjunct to the Democrats, used the crisis to trash the recently re-elected G.W. Bush, and incidentally, deflect accountability from their ideological soulmates. Thus the entire blame was hurled at Bush, the Feds, and FEMA. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t factual, it wasn’t even reality. But you see, that didn’t matter anymore! The story line, now called the Narrative, was paramount, and the narrative was, as always, Democrat good, Republican wicked.
Now to Flint. The genesis of the crisis lay when the Flint leadership decided to build an alternative water system to compete with Detroit’s. Flint’s Council is officially non-partisan, but Flint has been for decades a fiefdom of… Guess that Party!—the United Auto Autoworkers and the Democrats. Mayor Walling was heavily supported by… Guess that Party!—The Democrats. They voted in March 2013, 7-1 to stop buying water from Detroit Water and Sewer. The State-Appointed Emergency Manager Darnell Early, appointed by Snyder, but– Guess that Party!—a long time Democrat–approved.
On April 17, Flint was notified by Detroit Water and Sewer, run by Guess that Party!—the Democrat Detroit city government that Detroit would cut off Flint as of April 2014. Now the new pipeline wouldn’t be ready until 2017, so you see the problem: a multi-year gap in service. The solution was to tap Flint River water, and treat it. April 25, 2014, Mayor Walling Guess that Party!—proudly turned off Detroit water. The mistake was immediately apparent as complaints poured in. In August 2014, the city issued a boil-water advisory. In October, General Motors cut loose from the system.
That’s the water connection. A side story has been the crisis exacerbated by Flint’s…what’s the phrase? “Aging infrastructure.” In 1970 Flint’s population was over 193,000. 2015 Census shows 102,320. Flint has lost half its population over the last 40 years. Once a wealthy, industrial powerhouse, Flint is now half-empty, poor, de-populated, de-industrialized, run-down and regularly ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in America. The infrastructure mirrors the town. Over the decades, money that could and should have gone into routine maintenance and upgrading went…where? During those decades, Flint was run by–Guess that Party!—UAW Democrats. Another note: now there’s news breaking about cases of Legionnaires Disease in Flint. One leading condition for breeding Legionnaires is under-maintained water systems.
So why didn’t the governor just take it all over immediately? First off, because it’s not that easy legally. Secondly, because when the governor has stepped in during cases of egregious financial emergency, the local response has always been to scream bloody murder about stealing people’s right to self-government, and often charges of outright racism, led by… Guess that Party! Democrats–and stoutly supported by the Democrat media. So can you blame the governor for going slow on taking over more functions of a Democratic, African American political stronghold?
And wow! We have celebrities! Far left filmmaker and malevolent gasbag Michael Moore would put the governor on trial. Of course he would. And he has a lot to deflect, having milked Flint, exploiting the town with his deceptive Roger and Me film. It put Moore on the map and the Curse of Cain on the town, destroying any hope of outside investment for at least 15 years. There are heartfelt accusations from Cher! And big name politicos and presidential candidates, all of them die-hard members of… Guess that Party!
So, what’cha got here is a crisis made by policy decided by Democrats, implemented by Democrats, in a city run for decades by Democrats, whose fall is a slow-motion tragedy. It’s problems and challenges have been long known, so where has everybody been for the last 40 years? Why now, only now, does the Democrat party and its allied media shriek, clutch pearls in horror, and seek to pin the whole thing on the Republican governor?
Could it be because they want to forever tarnish Rick Snyder and his administration by pulling a routine partisan Katrina’ing? Could it be to deflect accountability away from the decades of mismanagement that caused the crisis, led by Guess that Party? Partisan soldiers on the D Side already have their answers and their narrative. It’s folks in the middle that need to look at all the facts, and not just drink the Kool-Aid being pushed by operatives of Guess that Party! Especially not if they’ve made it with Flint water.
teaches Political Science at Oakland University and serves on the Board of the Regional Transportation Authority. He was elected to represent the 40th District in the Michigan House and was appointed Chairman of the all-important Appropriations Committee, responsible for the entire state budget. Prior to politics, Chuck was political columnist for the DETROIT NEWS, and has hosted talk shows for radio and television.