Meyer's Inbox: Partisan Carping

Homes remain surrounded by floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2005, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)
Like to read other people's mail? Well, have at it. The Against the Grain inbox is open for your perusal. And by the way, this is not a blog.

Not A Time For Partisan Sniping
Some readers thought I had hit the nail on the head this week with my comments on the partisan harping about the Hurricane Katrina. But many others, it seems, would like to hit me on the head.

Thank you for a thoughtful piece; the media is much at fault for showing ONLY the dreadful horror of the event; it would be wonderful to hear from a few of those risking their life to help others and to hear from those who don't blame Bush for EVERYTHING that happens anywhere, anytime. May God bless and protect all who have suffered so much.
Barbara Anderson, AZ

Bush has shown incompetence in everything he has ever attempted. It is vital that Americans are aware of it and make decisions in light of it. To not point out how stupidly Bush acts, and the tragic results of his decisions, would be a failure of understanding and action on the part of the people.

Quoting Limbaugh is a fool's errand. Limbaugh is the ultimate partisan, who uses any tactics to accomplish his sleaze. I frankly am amazed a legitimate professional like you would quote Limbaugh for any purpose.

It is vital that the people unite in strength to hinder any other actions on the part of this dim bulb. If we can't, then we deserve what we get.
Jim Slark, Dana Point, CA

"Of course some howlers in the winds of politics and culture war are trying to score political and rhetorical points on Katrina's back; we'll make fun of them later."

I think making fun of this ridiculous comment is warranted now. This was a tragedy being predicted and talked about for years. The government had days to plan for the hurricane's arrival. Bush cut funding to fix the levees so more money could go toward Iraq and other areas which do not help Middle America. Now is not the time to hold people accountable?? Please, WHEN is the time?? How much more are Americans going to sacrifice and suffer for the miserable failures and delusions of this President?? Can someone please explain why helicopters did not air drop food and water supplies to the Dome until FRIDAY?? Even if we believed Bush's pathetic excuse that our superb military couldn't make it into a flooded American city before now and that no one could have possibly predicted this tragedy, WHY couldn't helicopters have at least air dropped these supplies Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday?? But no, let's just hold Bush unaccountable yet again for another one of his miserable failures.

What will it take to wake up Americans to what Bush has done to us by sending all our resources, lives, and money for his delusional war and ignoring warning after warning after warning on global warming? What will it seriously take? How much longer are Americans going to tolerate listening to Bush parrot over and over again how he's working hard and thinking about things? The absolute failures of this President with NO consequences is literally amazing. When will we finally say enough?

"This event is frankly too big to have opinions about."

Frankly, if you really believe this, find a new job.
Jenny Wienke

You often hit the nail on the head in your commentaries, and this one, again, sinks into the wood. When a neighbors' house is on fire, we rush to put it out, first. Later, when everyone is safe, we can talk about the housing code violations that may have caused it. Today we have Americans dying across the Gulf states, and dead bodies to be respectfully picked up and buried. My state -- Vermont -- stopped what we were doing yesterday and filled dozens of tractor trailers with water, clothes and food at 11 drop-off sites, including the statehouse lawn. I was at one site, loading pallets with countless volunteers who just appeared and were likewise grateful to pitch in. It may be human nature to seek advantage out of turmoil, but it was human spirit that filled the trucks with essentials for our southern neighbors.
Michael T. Heath, Hinesburg, VT

No, Dick, it IS time for partisan sniping. We've been told for six years that this administration was re-organizing agencies to protect the U.S. in case of disaster. We've had color coded warnings that make Chicken Little look mild-mannered. Billions have been squandered to that end only to discover that, when the chips are down, the responsible agencies cannot manage a simple water drop to an elevated freeway. And the former F.B.I. head who was tipped to the imminent hijacking jet attack has been given a medal of honor.

It is time for more than partisan sniping. It's time for people to hit the streets to show their disgust with this sham of a government and a poseur for a president.
Dean Hubbard, Orlando, FL

Admittedly, I have not for a couple of years done more than rarely browse your website nor those of the other mainstream media outlets because I became tired of the lack of news being reported and the obvious increase of editorializing being offered instead.

In the wake of the hurricane catastrophe, however, and the unbelievable speed at which this country and its elected leaders are being scoffed, I felt compelled to scan some of the headlines on CBS News and other media websites to confirm what I could not believe was already being said by the media in the hourly radio reports. Your lone headline, "Not a Time for Partisan Sniping," is the lone sane voice on all of these websites (,, to this average American who is trying to gather the facts, to decide where to send my money, and to make sense of this American human tragedy. Mr. Meyer, you are it...the only one expressing this sentiment.

I have decided one thing already: I would prefer to persevere with my fellow Americans without those who would take this time to politicize this disaster. Thank you for your point of view and for putting it into words for the world to read. I hope to hear more such sanity from you and your cohorts -- although, sadly and except for you, I will not hold my breath.
M. K. Cirame, Saint Clair Shores, MI

I agree it is no time for partisan sniping. However, it is a time for accountability. The road map for that accountability will need to include the decision to cut funding for the New Orleans area levees for the first time in 37 years, starting in the first year this administration was in office (See Times Picayune, New Orleans CityBusiness, etc.), the decision to fight a discretionary war in a far off land after drumming up popular support by fear mongering references to mushroom clouds and mendacious linking of 9/11 actors to Iraq, poor planning for the aftermath of that war resulting in an overextended National Guard, poor evacuation planning for this very hurricane disaster that has been predicted for decades, tax cuts during war which had a direct effect on federal spending on levees, and by the complete lack of leadership as evidenced by this President's need to keep a T-Time and make political stops in Arizona and California to raise partisan campaign money after the hurricane had hit. Oh, I would also recommend reading the EPA report on global warming, especially the part headed by "CLIMATE CHANGE EXPECTED to LEAD TO STRONGER HURRICANES." It was severely criticized and dismissed by the President, but you might find it a good read for an accountability article.

In passing, I see you have quoted Rush Limbaugh as a source of information for your article calling for an absence of partisan sniping and on the irrelevance of global warming. I thought he built his empire on those very things: partisan sniping and hot air.
Rich Brock

I am so relieved to read your commentary and see that not all members of the press corps have gone totally insane. I am sick to death of the typical, pseudo-intellectual but overly simplistic analysis that sensationalizes the news, exploits the victims, further polarizes an already divided public and assigns ridiculous blame to political enemies -- most often to the current President.

Thank you for your much-needed voice of reason. May your influence be felt and copied by your comrades and colleagues throughout the media.
Jane Day

I fully agree that partisan cheap-shots, left, right or center, are out of order in a time when we see so much death, so much suffering that it is impossible to absorb it all at once. But pragmatic criticism is another matter. If one life is spared because one FEMA official, or one politician works one minute more than she or he would have done in the absence of that criticism, then I say let us not withhold at least this measure of criticism. From Federal and State agencies to our politically elected leaders, the effort to save New Orleans and the Gulf Coast has been slower than it should have been, smaller than it needed to be, and as uncoordinated beyond what one familiar with the centralized nature of other governmental programs could ever have imagined. Despite the heartbreaking scenes, I did not expect the government to respond for 24 hours after the levees broke (i.e. until mid-day on Wednesday). But it is now very early Thursday evening and no one is even dropping water and MREs to thousands of people congregated in small spaces easily reached by helicopters for low-level dumps to the ground.

We should, indeed we have a moral obligation, to keep the people responsible for policy, administration and execution of life-saving services for those who are sick, starving and scared. I don't care about Rush Limbaugh, or Robert F. Kennedy Jr. right now. Neither should you. But I do care that people if those with responsibility are asleep at the switch. So should you.
Ira J. Cohen, Plainsboro, NJ

It's not partisan bickering when the evidence of GROSS INCOMPETENECE is so damned overwhelming. The policies of this administration, the lack of performance on the part of FEMA and the DOD, etc are a disgrace.
Joseph Plunkett

The article on CBS News' website regarding avoiding partisan politics in the N.O. mega-disaster is extremely lame.

I would like to indict CBS as one of the major media as guilty players in all of this. I am an independent voter who cares about people more than corporate profits, and all the networks are in a race down, down, down in terms of accountability to their viewers.

Not only do you not hold the elected officials who are guilty of massive corruption, fraud and lying to the world accountable for their incompetence, you had the audacity to run a piece on the Monday night news to the effect of "Camille -- there was a real storm."

If you truly think the disorganized bunglers who comprise the president's "Homeland Security" henchmen have not proven themselves to be completely incompetent, I sure hope the next catastrophe hits the town where you and the rest of CBS News' smug employees live. In the meantime, how about some real reporting instead of this apology for people who don't even slightly deserve it.

No wonder we have the worst president, ever.
David Brown, Renfrew, PA

Granted, perhaps now is not the time for a discussion about global warming as a possible contributing factor to Katrina.

Let us note, however, that in order to divert funding to a war in Iraq, the Bush administration repeatedly cut requested funding to repair the New Orleans levees that broke in the wake of Katrina, leaving an entire city half-submerged and evacuated. Let us note that over half of the National Guardsmen (and their equipment) needed to save desperate New Orleans residents in this time of catastrophe are in Iraq. And let us note that the war in Iraq was started by our administration for reasons that have been, one by one, been proved misleading.

It isn't partisan sniping to write articles that explicate how the means for preventing the catastrophe in New Orleans were diverted for an unnecessary war: it's holding the current administration accountable for its disastrous actions. That's what the media should be doing right now -- I wish you would put aside your partisan politics to do that, instead of using column space for frivolity.
Maya Gurantz

Once again, a moronic, simple minded editorial from Dick Meyer. He actually quotes one of the most vile and hypocritical people in America -- Rush Limbaugh to attack Robert Kennedy (a passionate defender of the environment).

Rush Limbaugh for years has ignored real scientist on Global warming and its impact including extreme hurricanes -- the Bush administration has ignored plans for fixing New Orleans levy system and deferred the money for the war in Iraq -- both deserve blame in this mess and NO it should not wait for pathetic shills like Dick Meyers to sweep their culpability under the carpet.

What actual purpose does Dick Meyer serve other than to play toady to Bush and Limbaugh? Quit wasting my time and others on crap like Dick Meyers and his moron personnel opinions!
W.R. White