Today’s Hurricane Katrina anniversary offers obvious red meat for Democratic presidential candidates seeking to assert their competency in homeland security matters. John Edwards probably had the week’s best punch line, championing a policy he called “Brownie’s Law,” that would require “demonstrated qualifications” of senior political appointees, a dig at Katrina-era FEMA chief Michael Brown. This week’s Katrina-inspired speeches, including a criticism of the federal bureaucracy by Republican Mike Huckabee, range from the sincere to the politically opportunistic. But the anniversary still provides a welcome chance to discuss a neglected issue on the campaign trail. A number of candidates have been vocal on how homeland security allocates terror funds but don’t dwell too much on the nuts-and-bolts infrastructure issues that underpin a healthy homeland in both stormy and good weather. Joel Kotkin has the week’s must-read op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the issue of declining U.S. infrastructure. He notes many regional planners are fixated on sports arenas and convention centers while ignoring what he calls the “sinews of commerce and communication — bridges, tunnels, roads, rail lines, ports, sewers, and drainage systems.” If candidates want to prove their worth on storm response, they should prepare for a new round of speeches in just a few weeks to mark the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Rita, less potent than Katrina, but still able to create staggering gridlock in Houston, the country’s fourth-largest city. Or they could follow up on New York City’s emergency communications system after the city’s subway system was paralyzed by heavy rain and the transit authority had no effective way of getting information to commuters. There were pronouncements about infrastructure after the early August bridge tragedy in Minneapolis but these incidents tend to retreat into local issues after a few months. So Katrina’s anniversary offers another shot at sustaining a dialogue on the country’s preparedness for storms and other disasters. A looming hurricane season may keep the issue in the forefront.