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More Grist for the Partisan Accusation Mill

Aerial view of a partially collapsed building in Surfside near Miami Beach, Fla., June 24, 2021. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Down in Florida, after two weeks of searching, the rescue effort at the collapsed condo in Surfside has become a recovery effort.

For a short while, there was a frustratingly widespread effort to ignore the pleas of our Charlie Cooke and find some political attack angle to stick on the tragic event.

Reporters who should have known better claimed, falsely, that Florida governor Ron DeSantis had unnecessarily delayed the FEMA response, that DeSantis had delayed the emergency declaration, that the collapse was the result of a state effort at “deregulation,” that the collapse proved the importance of President Biden’s infrastructure proposal,  and that climate change was to blame.

It’s enough to make one appreciate the World Socialists for their bizarre but original complaint that “Biden goes to Surfside to promote bipartisan cover-up of Florida condo collapse.” (What does that even mean? How on earth was anyone “covering up” the widely covered, universally decried collapse of the building?)

Investigators haven’t yet determined what caused the building to experience such a sudden and catastrophic collapse, but the early evidence suggests a failure at or near the base, and problems in the foundation and structure, possibly exacerbated by tremors caused by construction work nearby. In 2018, an investigating engineer wrote of “major structural damage” to the concrete slab beneath the pool deck as well as “abundant” cracking in the columns, beams, and walls of the parking garage beneath the complex. The investigations will continue, but from what can be determined so far, there are not a lot of national policy lessons to learn from this tragedy. This appears to be an aging building with worsening structural problems, and owners and management that appear to have failed to heed the warnings from inspecting engineers.

The sight of the collapsed building gripped the nation, but it is slowly fading from the news outside of Florida. For quite a few politically obsessive folks on social media, the disaster was just more grist for the mill — another big news event that had to be transformed into an argument about why the Republican governor was evil, or why any effort to repeal any existing regulations is always bad, or why a Democratic bill should be passed. And yet, for everyone who lost a loved one in that horror, it was more than another quickly forgotten political football. It was a tragic turning point, dozens of lives snuffed out before their times.

But this is how our news is created, consumed, and digested now, a series of rapidly approaching and speedily fading bite-size accusations against the political opposition, as yet another batch of proof that the political figures we disagree with are the root of all evil.

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