Conservatives Hate Hurricanes

So for the second time in a row, the Republican National Convention lost a day to a natural disaster. The fact that Tropical Storm Isaac posed some threat to the convention site itself made it a complete no-brainer. But even if Isaac passes Tampa by and wreaks havoc further up the Gulf Coast, it’s just bad for Republicans. Part of that, of course, is because of lingering memories of the Bush administration’s wretched handling of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. But part of it is that a political party committed deeply to the proposition that government is always the problem and never the solution is just going to struggle with situations where competent government is absolutely essential.

Alan Wolfe made this point in a 2006 article for the Washington Monthly entitled “Why Conservatives Can’t Govern:”

If government is necessary, bad government, at least for conservatives, is inevitable, and conservatives have been exceptionally good at showing just how bad it can be. Hence the truth revealed by the Bush years: Bad government–indeed, bloated, inefficient, corrupt, and unfair government–is the only kind of conservative government there is. Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well.

A Republican presidential ticket whose chieftain can barely bring himself to talk about his own governing experience in Massachusetts (supported by a running-mate whose entire experience in government has focused on disabling governance) is never going to welcome one of those recurring phenomena that show why we have government in the first place.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.