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California Wildfire Response Compared to Katrina; U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Iran

The government's response to the California wildfires evoked comparisons with Hurricane Katrina, while the United States imposed new sanctions against Iran. Analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss the week's news.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Mark, the California fires. People are drawing analogies between what happened at Katrina and what happened now. Is that valid?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    Well, it’s certainly welcome to the administration, Jim. I mean, after the fires in Southern California, except where personal and community and public tragedy, but they were a great political gift to the administration, to show that they had learned from the disastrous experience of Katrina and the failed response of FEMA, that they could respond quickly.

    The president was given a Republican governor there, whom he’d never been particularly close with, but they could be in mutual admiration. The fact that it was California guaranteed that it was going to get greater public attention than the Gulf region and greater federal response.

    And they did. And, you know, I think that there was federal — there were troops there to prevent looting. There were all of the things that were learned. There was quick settlement on insurance claims.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    What do you think about that, David? Just legitimate to make these comparisons?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    I think so. I mean, it’s most important for the country. When you looked at the images we saw at the top of the show, there’s people planning. The authorities are taking control of the situation.

    And if you look at public polling across the country, people are reasonably happy with their own life. If you’re asked, “Are you happy with your own life?” you get very high numbers, 80 percent, 90 percent. “Are you happy with the state of the country as a whole?” is very low numbers.

    There’s incredible disjunction between private happiness and public anxiety. And that’s based on the fact that a lot of people don’t think we’re in control, that the authorities in this country are in control of situations, that there are all of these threats coming in, and we can’t do anything about them.

    And the fact that we seem to have been able to respond effectively to the fires at least forestalls another period of national depression and maybe shows that some authority figures can actually work and maybe begin to restore some sense of authority. And then I think it’s partly learning from Katrina, it’s partly from pretty good local response, and it’s partly because the area it struck had much higher degrees of social capital than the area in New Orleans.

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