James Robbins makes this excellent contrast:
The public debate over the response to Hurricane Katrina has shown an appalling and disturbing lack of common purpose and of civility. There is always a place for legitimate criticism of government actions; in the fullness of time, when the facts have been gathered, conducting a sober and constructive review seeking less to place blame than to provide lessons for the future. Instead, we have seen something wholly counterproductive, an outpouring of virulence, vindictiveness, even hatred.
Katrina has become for the critics what 9/11 could not be, what they wanted Iraq to be, the vessel into which they have poured all their frustrations for a broad assault on the president. The disaster has not only been used as a means of criticizing FEMA and the department of Homeland Security — which at least were involved in the crisis — but has also been used to indict the Bush administration’s views on the environment, taxes, stem-cell research, health care, race, military recruitment, the Supreme Court, labor outsourcing, and AIDS in Africa. To their ultimate shame, the Democrats have even exploited the disaster for partisan fundraising. Ironically, the people who have most feared that President Bush is seeking to be a dictator are now complaining that he did not act enough like one.
The 9/11 attacks became a great unifying event. Americans pulled together for a common purpose, and in the years since have done remarkable things. The response to Hurricane Katrina could have been an opportunity for another show of national unity, but instead has descended into a sad and shameful spectacle, a maelstrom of malice.
Read the rest of the article here: Into the Maelstrom