September 14, 2005


Minority Retort: This is your moment, Democrats. Don't blow it. (John Dickerson, Sept. 13, 2005, Slate)

Democrats were furious that President Bush didn't take responsibility for the Katrina relief catastrophe. Now they're furious that he did. President Bush's careful admission that he is responsible for the botched federal response to Hurricane Katrina "to the extent that the federal government didn't do its job right" is a familiar Washington gambit: "turning the page." Bush's acceptance of responsibility answers cable news' echo-room charge that someone needs to be held accountable. Now the president—having embraced his inner Truman—can move on and change the message.

Liberal pundits had already declared the end of his presidency, but with this rhetorical feint Bush muddies the discussion. He's giving away lots of federal goodies. He's making a prime time speech from Louisiana on Thursday night. Pretty soon, the media and the country might start letting Bush off the hook. Now any Democrat who carps on those federal failures can be brushed off as a hack merely playing politics. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), not immune to playing politics, warned Monday during John Roberts' nomination hearings that "Katrina victims should not be used to score political points."

Still, Democrats have been given their best chance in five years to win back the country. Are they going to blow it? [...]

How do Democrats keep Katrina and the tragically late federal response front and center? By making Katrina part of a larger argument about leadership and national security.

What leadership? Mayor Nagin's? Governor Blanco's? Both of them have a vested interest in defending the response and portraying events from here forward in glowing terms.

Harry Reid's? All the congressional leadership has done is whine.

The argument is a still-born loser.

Hurricane Katrina, Act II - starring George Bush (Dick Morris, 9/13/05, The Hill)

Our national political/journalistic complex is obsessed with blaming President Bush for failing to respond quickly to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. After weeks of media pounding and casualty figures that were, apparently, wildly and widely exaggerated, polls suggest that the public has no choice but to agree with the critique.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of Sept. 8-11 shows that only 44 percent of Americans approve of the job Bush did immediately after the storm. But so what? The same survey shows that 58 percent approve of the work he has done since then in helping New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to recover from the effects of the disaster.

The low job approval of Bush’s efforts in the week after the storm will fade into history and take its place alongside similar criticism of his slowness to act after the planes hit on Sept. 11 or after the tsunami struck late last year. What counts for the future is that the ratings on his recent performance are 20 points higher than his overall job approval.

This positive affirmation of the president’s role in the past few weeks is the leading indicator Washington should be following.

Bush Accepts Blame for Slow Hurricane Response: President acknowledges flaws at all levels of government. Louisiana death toll reaches 423. (Nicholas Riccardi, Ashley Powers and Josh Meyer. September 14, 2005, LA Times)
With water now covering less than 40% of New Orleans, there were more heartening signs of revival. The Army Corps of Engineers said it was pumping out about 9 billion gallons per day, and that the city should be drained of floodwaters in about a month.

The first passenger flights returned to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. Port officials said they expected the first cargo ship to arrive next week. And Mayor C. Ray Nagin said he hoped to reopen the historic French Quarter and the city's central business district next week, along with the Algiers and Uptown neighborhoods, which mostly escaped storm damage.

"We are bringing New Orleans back. We are bringing its culture back, we are bringing its music back," Nagin said. Glancing up at military helicopters thudding overhead, he added: "I'm tired of hearing these helicopters. I want to hear some jazz."

Nagin also acknowledged that Katrina's knockout blow had exhausted the city's cash reserves. "I don't think we will have to" declare bankruptcy, Nagin said. "There are so many people who want to help us." He added that he was "working furiously" to obtain lines of credit from banks and the federal government. [...]

By accepting personal responsibility, Bush appeared to try to shift the debate away from finger-pointing to the reconstruction of New Orleans, a formidable task that could repair his frayed image as a leader if it succeeded. Widespread public dismay with federal efforts has translated to Bush's lowest polling numbers in his five years as president.

Bush's admission drew immediate praise from one of his harshest critics.

"The president's comments today will do more to move the country forward from this tragedy than anything that has been said by any leader in the past two weeks," said Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.). "Accountability at every level is critical, and leadership begins at the top."

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 14, 2005 10:11 AM

Where's Perlstein? Perhaps the Democrats should get him to write their themes, instead of George Lakoff or Jim Wallis (or broken records like Jesse Jackson and Laurence Guyotte).

The next election isn't for 15 months. Other than the media's certain anniversary specials, who will be focused on Katrina then? No one.

After all, there could be another big hurricane before then. And two more vacancies on the Court. And on and on.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 14, 2005 10:34 AM

The Dem campaign themes for '06 and '08, so far:

-- "Keep Terri Schiavo dead."

-- "Bush caused the hurricane."

A winning combination, that.

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 14, 2005 10:54 AM

Trolls don't seem to hang around here very long. Perhaps all this reasonable debate among people who don't name call or rant and rave, even when they disagree, interferes with their mind meld to the DNC talking points memo.

Posted by: erp at September 14, 2005 10:56 AM

except the Darwinists

Posted by: at September 14, 2005 11:04 AM

Landrieu has already buried this as an issue. She knows that this type of acceptance of phony responsibility is always enough. (See for example Janet Reno after Waco.) The public wants these meaningless rituals.

By phony, I do not mean that the President was not accepting resonsibility for errors (if any)but of course the President is always responsponsible for the actions of his subordinates. So, it is a meaningless acceptance.

Posted by: Bob at September 14, 2005 11:04 AM


True acceptance would necessitate direct examination (under oath) of Kathleen Blanco, Ray Nagin, and Mary Landrieu, which is too devastating for them to contemplate.

Posted by: ratbert at September 14, 2005 11:52 AM

Short wave conspiracy radio and latter-day Confederates are having fifty fits that in his desire to improve Federal disaster response, Chimpy wants to send in active-duty military without consulting local government. What about the Fourth Amendment and The Posse Comitatus Act, they cry?

And all of this because a couple of hacks in a corrupt, state political machine are brain dead. Sheesh.

Posted by: Ed Bush at September 14, 2005 12:00 PM

erp: Civility of discourse is one of the best facilitators of open, even daring, exchange of ideas.

You have heard it said of old that an armed society is a polite society, but I say to you that a polite society is an armed society.

Posted by: Lou Gots at September 14, 2005 12:40 PM


Posted by: oj at September 14, 2005 12:46 PM

Wasn't a society.

Posted by: joe shropshire at September 14, 2005 12:47 PM

I think it's not just the civility but the expectation that would should provide evidence and links to support one's point of view. On the lefty websites I frequent, not only is it a rare comment indeed that is other than unsupported assertions but based on reactions to my comments many of them don't even understand the concept of "supporting evidence".

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 14, 2005 3:46 PM


How many in Mogadishu had weapons? 10%? 20%?

Had it been 100%, Aidid would have been long dead and we would never have been there.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 14, 2005 3:52 PM

Lou, no argument here, and if I did offer an argument, you may be sure it would be with the utmost of civility with links too whenever possible.

One of my many pet peeves is the knee-jerk name calling from the left. They can't grasp the difference between calling an argument foolish and calling the arguer a fool.

BTW - Shelton thought bart was back under a new nom-de-blog. Does anyone what it is?

Posted by: erp at September 14, 2005 4:48 PM

"Trolls don't seem to hang around here very long."

OJ deletes their posts.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2005 5:55 PM

oj, is what Robert says true?

Posted by: erp at September 14, 2005 7:18 PM


No. Unless someone uses profanity, accusations of Nazism, personal attacks against other commentors, overextended excerpts from other sites, or repeated untruths I leave their post up. Even the profane ones I edit more often than delete. On occassion, if I ask someone to answer a direct question and they won't I'll delete them until they do. I've also asked folks not to comment anonymously, just because it makes it harder to address them--pseodonyms are fine.

I did have to delete bart fairly often and I play with Brit, creeper and Jeff Guinn's Darwinism posts, mostly as a sociological experiment.

The Darwin trolls are the only ones who will stay around for long because they're the most fanatical--no fact, argument nor even admission from their own side can ever shake their faith.

Left trolls do seem to be disappointed to be treated with respect and have their points rebutted.

Posted by: oj at September 14, 2005 7:35 PM

So why won't you let me slam Perlstein. Is it because you were his fraternity brother?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2005 8:22 PM

No, because it's nothing but a personal attack. Go after his ideas, not him.

Posted by: oj at September 14, 2005 8:25 PM

Robert, why slam Perlstein? His arguments are easy to refute as they're pure liberal boiler plate.

Posted by: erp at September 14, 2005 8:28 PM

I see no reason to waste pixels on refuting liberal claptrap. It is hardly worth the effort.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2005 8:38 PM


Regarding links, I prefer to construct what I believe to be a logical argument about a given position, and have people respond to that, rather than just trade links, for two reasons:

I don't think that many people actually click through to the referenced doc.

Supporting links are often ludicrous, such as when a person that I had a long exchange with referred me to a NYTimes article to support some allegation of Bushian malfeasance, and to the Union of Concerned Scientists (!!!) to attempt to convince me that pursuing ballistic missile defense was a bad idea.
Likewise, I'm sure that my links to Wall Street Journal articles and the DoD were not well received.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2005 11:51 PM