Newt Gingrich at O’Leilly’s Factor:

GINGRICH: [Then] you go off on this – total giving up on government, which I think is just wrong. And I think frankly is un-American.

We have a long history in America that government can do a lot of things. And government can be successful in a lot of ways. And I think that government sometimes does it by incentives. We built the Transcontinental Railroad. We sometimes do it directly. We built the Panama Canal.

[I] can’t agree with you that the answer ought to be to give up on government being effective. And to say to everybody, you know, you better be wealthy enough that you can leave under your own power because nobody’s ever going to help you…

Bill responds:

O’REILLY: Well, I disagree with you strongly on this. I don’t think the government is equipped in any way, shape or form to solve anybody’s problems and to get them out of harm’s way at all.

Some things the government does well. [Our] military is the best in the world. Our capitalistic system provides opportunity for many more people than anywhere else in the world.

But the government cannot help you personally. And that was my point. [We] can debate that philosophically.

Is this the same O’Reilly who just recently bashed greedy oil companies and said that politicians have let us down on Katrina?

To consider it Leilly-philosophically, all the government has to do is to have biggest military, longest vacations, and provide “non-personal” opportunities for those who have money to lobby.

1990’s were different times:

MARSHALL (7/11/96): As Hurricane Bertha churned toward the Southeast coast Wednesday, a massive exodus of tourist havens began.

Officials urged at least 1 million people to leave as Bertha took aim with 100-mph winds.

An estimated 500,000 people were ordered to evacuate six north Florida counties. About 50,000 were asked to get off Hatteras and Ocracoke islands on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. And officials urged the evacuation of parts of two South Carolina counties with 380,000 residents…

Bertha’s immediate effects:

  • NASA moved the shuttle Atlantis off its Cape Canaveral launch pad to a hangar.
  • Olympic officials in Georgia moved yachts inland.
  • Navy officials ordered 54 ships out to sea to avoid being battered against the docks.
  • President Clinton canceled appearances set for today in Orlando and Tampa.

Witt was upbeat about his agency’s plans for the storm. “Everyone is ready and on alert,” he said. “I think as far as our planning efforts, we’re in good shape. We have a lot of resources available”

MCQUILLAN (9/20/99): President Clinton, who has picked up the moniker “comforter in chief,” visits North Carolina today to meet with victims of Hurricane Floyd and confer with state and local officials to coordinate federal relief efforts.

Clinton will go to Raleigh and then take a helicopter to Tarboro, where torrential rains created massive flooding. “We are on the threshold of a crisis,” Edgecombe County Manager Joe Durham said…

In fact, Clinton was unwilling to be away from Washington when the storm struck the East Coast last week. He called off plans to golf in Hawaii after a five-day trip to New Zealand and returned to the nation’s capital.

Aides say Clinton’s 12 years as governor of Arkansas made him particularly sensitive to the need for swift federal action to help communities cope with natural disasters, and to the political benefits derived from meeting the needs of victims.

Even last year was different:

New Orleans is unlucky that 2005 is not an election year.

More food for thought about government: here and here.

[Crossposted at Dkos.]

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