From today's New York Post:
May 10, 2007 -- Did you hear about the tornado in Kan sas that killed 10,000 people last weekend?
Barack Obama did.
"There was a tragedy in Kansas," said Obama Monday. "Ten thousand people died - an entire town destroyed."
"Turns out that the National Guard in Kansas only had 40 percent of its equipment," he said, "and they are having to slow down the recovery process."
And where is the missing equipment?
In Iraq, fighting Dubya's war - thus blame for all the death and destruction in Kansas accrues to President Bush.
Indeed, Obama couldn't possibly have been more wrong.
Only 10 people were killed in the storm - the word "thousand" apparently popping out of Obama's mouth in his haste to exploit the tragedy, and hang another Katrina-like indictment on the president.
More to the point, tornadoes happen in Kansas - if you doubt it, rent "The Wizard of Oz."
So it would be reasonable for Kansans to expect their state government to be prepared for such an event.
Instead, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has been complaining for years of a "looming crisis" traceable to the fact that a lot of Kansas National Guard heavy equipment had been deployed to Iraq.
Complaining is always easier than discharging the responsibilities of office.
That is, if the "looming crisis" were as grave as the governor claims, why didn't she simply replace the deployed equipment out of a doubtlessly more-than-adequate Kansas state budget?
The fact is, America is at war. By law, the Army has first claim on the National Guard - its troops and its equipment.
If any president is to blame for the "missing equipment," it's Bill Clinton.
For it was on Clinton's watch - and at his urging - that the post-Cold War "peace dividend" was cashed in.
Clinton conspired with Congress to slash the Army from more than 14 divisions to fewer than 10 - with the explicit understanding that the difference was to be made up in time of war by the deployment of National Guard units with their equipment.
Well, it's wartime.
Time to pay the piper.
Sure, Barack Obama - two years removed from the back bench of the Illinois Legislature - might be forgiven for not understanding all of this (though inflating a death toll by a factor of 1,000 is a little breathtaking).
But Sebelius and other governors sure should know it.
Didn't Hurricane Katrina deliver the mother of all wake-up calls?
Sebelius, in particular, clearly recognized the problems facing her tornado-friendly state - the knowledge was embedded in her warnings.
She could have purchased replacement equipment from state resources. Yes, that might have required a bit of belt-tightening and revising of other priorities.
This is called leadership - which seems to be what's really missing at the moment in Kansas.
Sebelius was content simply to complain.
And now, to score some cheap political points.
Update: The tornado victims are very upset with Governor Sebilius for politically exploiting their suffering.
While Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the Bush administration jaw back-and-forth over the relief efforts for Greensburg, Kan., the town devastated by Friday night's F-5 tornado, town residents have chimed in and say they couldn't be any happier with the response from the government and other rescue units.
"The poor response thing is just political BS," Greensburg resident Mike Swigart, 47, who lost his house and four vehicles from the storm, told wcbstv.com in an exclusive interview. "I saw her on television and I'm disappointed in that because she doesn't know what she's talking about."
After the storm dissipated, Swigart and his family came up to find just a small portion of the structure of their house remaining. Their cars were destroyed. People were crawling from a semi-truck that rolled onto his lawn. But Swigart said there was an almost immediate response from other towns, people who had lined up to try and provide rescue efforts. He said Sebelius' comment about the lack of Humvees was unfounded.
"You may have seen her on television when she said that, and she talked about Hummers, that we needed Hummers. There were Hummers sitting in front of my house every day. The National Guard was there," he said. "I saw people from all over who came right away to help and nobody sent them, they just came because they knew it was going to be big. The response was excellent, the rescue efforts were all night long, and I even made a comment to my wife later that night when we came back into our basement that I can't imagine anyone saying we had a poor response to this tragedy, that it was so quick and it was amazing."
Swigart says the general feeling around the town is that residents were overwhelmed by the immediate response, and that the governor's fuss was for her own good. White House press secretary Tony Snow responded to Sebelius by saying that there was no request by Kansas officials for extra equipment, and that if there is anyone to blame, it's her.
"I was told she wanted to run as vice president on the Democratic ticket, and honestly, I wouldn't vote for her if they paid me because of that one thing she said on television right there. It was a political slam is all it was," he said. "It was a political statement and as far as the military thing overseas, I support what they're doing over there, and the military that came here is doing a great job too."