Texas Burning

by Kevin D. Williamson

In case you’ve missed it, Texas has seen about 3,400 square miles of land — an area about the size of Puerto Rico — destroyed by wildfires. Pres. Barack Obama hit Texas to do some political fund-raising and give some speeches about immigration; Gov. Rick Perry suggested that he take a gubernatorially guided tour of some of the damage. The president couldn’t be bothered, but asked the governor to come to El Paso to act as a prop at a political event. Governor Perry declined.

Governor Perry often complains that the federal government simultaneously fails to do its real work and involves itself in things that are not real national priorities. The last time the president visited Texas, Governor Perry greeted him with a letter in hand demanding that the federal government execute its border-security duties. (It still won’t.) The governor is asking for a federal emergency declaration that will make additional firefighting resources available. The Obama administration is not budging. Never mind that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has seen fit to declare a snowstorm — in Connecticut, in the winter — a federal disaster this year, along with “severe winter storms” in Oklahoma and Missouri.

Democrats act as though Governor Perry is being hypocritical, because he has called for less federal interference in many state affairs. But, to my knowledge, Governor Perry has not called for the dissolution of the federal government (or of FEMA), and I am certain that Texans continue to pay taxes for the maintenance of it, serve in the military defending it, etc. When federal, state, and local authorities blew it during Hurricane Katrina, Texas found homes for a great number of those evacuees — the philosophy at work is federalism, not Social Darwinism.

I am fairly confident that if 3,400 square miles of Northern Virginia or New Jersey went up in flames, a federal emergency would be proclaimed. I am 100 percent confident that if the font size is one point off on your federally mandated Hmong-language minimum-wage poster, you can be sure that the Department of Labor will be airlifting a team of federal busybodies to be on your case most pronto; if you’re on fire, you get a nice speech.

In Texas, President Obama has more important things to do, such as raising money and pandering to Hispanic voters by dangling the promise of “comprehensive” immigration reform before them, knowing that it’s a go-nowhere proposition. He’ll visit a city on a border that his government controls about as well as President Zardari controls his, and which is at times about as dangerous.

To its credit, the Obama administration has dispatched aircraft to help with the firefighting . . . in Mexico.

Heckuva job, etc.