“The Katrina tragedy should become a watershed in American politics,” writes lefty framing guru George Lakoff on AlterNet. “This was when the usually invisible people suddenly appeared in all the anguish of their lives — the impoverished, the old, the infirm, the kids, and the low-wage workers with no cars, TVs, or credit cards. They showed up on America’s doorsteps, entered the living rooms, and stayed. Katrina will not go away soon, and she has the power to change America.”

Lakoff argues that Katrina gives us the perfect opportunity to highlight the “heart of progressive-liberal values,” namely “empathy (caring about and for people) and responsibility (acting responsibly on that empathy).”

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“A lack of empathy and responsibility accounts for Bush’s indifference and the government’s delay in response, as well as the failure to plan for the security of the most vulnerable: the poor, the infirm, the aged, the children,” he claims.

Put more succinctly: The Katrina disaster is the best possible argument for strong, vibrant, well-funded government that takes care of its people.  

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I wholeheartedly agree. You won’t find many Americans this month who would sympathize with anti-tax crusader and government-hater Grover Norquist and his aim “to get [government] down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, that quote sends shivers down the spine.