September 13, 2005

THE BUCK STOPPER:

Bush Takes Responsibility for Blunders (LARA JAKES JORDAN, 9/13/05, Associated Press)

President Bush said Tuesday that "I take responsibility" for failures in dealing with Hurricane Katrina and said the disaster raised broader questions about the government's ability to respond to natural disasters as well as terror attacks.

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government," Bush said at joint White House news conference with the president of
Iraq.

"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.

The president was asked whether people should be worried about the government's ability to handle another terrorist attack given failures in responding to Katrina.

"Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack? That's a very important question and it's in the national interest that we find out what went on so we can better respond," Bush replied.


Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin must want to have his baby right around now.

MORE:
Shaken by Katrina, public trust in government begins to rebound: Despite intense criticism, President Bush's approval rating is higher than it was in August, some polls suggest. (Linda Feldmann, 9/14/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

Government at all levels - not just President Bush and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - has taken a beating in the public arena following hurricane Katrina. Dark predictions of a deepening loss of faith toward public institutions have followed.

Now, there are inklings that negative reviews of the government response to Katrina have bottomed out and may be on the upswing.

The latest Gallup survey, comparing people's initial responses to the government handling of the crisis with how they feel now, shows that a majority of Americans are feeling better about the role of government in dealing with the hurricane than they did initially. And despite the sense that the president has suffered grave damage to his public image over Katrina, Gallup and other polls show the effect has been minimal.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 13, 2005 1:27 PM
Comments

That kind of response will lower his approval percentages. I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree after all. Ugh.

Posted by: AllenS at September 13, 2005 1:55 PM

Bush will order an after action critique of the whole episode, which should leave Blanco and Nagan seeking help from the witness protection program.

Posted by: Luciferous at September 13, 2005 2:15 PM

The Dems will insist that Nagin and Blanco be members of the commission.

Posted by: Gideon at September 13, 2005 2:19 PM

The 5:00 o'clock news will have a field day with this. Somewhere Hillary is smiling, and somewhere else little baby Jesus is crying. I'm worried, look at who daddy is hanging with. Somebody, reassure me.

Posted by: AllenS at September 13, 2005 2:22 PM

Allen:

It's always good politics to pretend to accept blame especially when folks are blaming others in reality.

Posted by: oj at September 13, 2005 2:28 PM

This represents a rare - phenomenally rare, actually - acceptance of blame by the President. He installed an inexperienced and, as events revealed, incompetent leadership at FEMA, as elsewhere, and in the political sense it's right that those chickens should come home to roost.

As a non-supporter of the Bush Administration in general, I may not be typical; I'm sure that some anti-Bush elements will seize on these statements with perverse glee. But speaking for myself, I find this reassuring.

Posted by: M. Bulger at September 13, 2005 2:31 PM

As has been pointed out many times, only a fool plays poker with Bush and expects to win. I have no idea what the president has in mind, but I'm confident he'll land on his feet and those dancing in glee right now, will feel pretty foolish very soon.

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2005 2:39 PM

I think M. is right. Bush has been photographed with Nagin several times in the past two days, and this morning's USA Today showed him riding through the French Quarter with Blanco (who looked awful) and Nagin. Bush is giving them all the exposure (and perhaps even cover) they could ever hope for. Why? I think he recognizes that, even if they are incompetent, they were on the front lines, and their 'mouthing off' is due (at least in part) to genuine concern for their constituents. However, don't expect Bush to extend the same courtesy to Mary Landrieu, who has morphed into the white Harry Belafonte.

What is the rabid left going to do now - exploit Bush's apology? Exactly how? Everyone knows now that a reasonable investigation is going to hurt the locals terribly, including LA's federal officials (Landrieu, etc.). The Corps will not come out unscathed, either. But if NO winds up with 200,000 fewer people by next summer, the funding priorities are going to change, too.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 13, 2005 2:45 PM

A good poker player knows when to call someones bluff, and then raise the bet. The whole reason to play poker is to go home with all the chips, not to look good. God (Jesus's dad), I hope you people are right.

Posted by: AllenS at September 13, 2005 2:53 PM

M. calls this a "phenomenally rare" acceptance of blame by W. He's right--but there's a reason for that. This marks the only time (some of) his critics have been anywhere close to right. Theoretically, this should quiet those who claim he never accepts blame for things, never admits mistakes. It won't, but it will provide us with a nice response.

Posted by: Timothy at September 13, 2005 2:53 PM

So, Timothy, every bit of criticism of the two wars being staged in Asia has been wrong?

Not from where I sit. Where's the acceptance of blame from the president or ANYONE in his administration for everything they got WRONG. Whether you believe in the ever-shifting reasons to go to war in Iraq, even the most stalwart Republican has to admit that mistakes in the conduct of the wat have been made.

Lack of post-war planning?
Lack of armor?
Lack of pre-war planning?
Faulty intelligence on WMD?

Anything?

Posted by: PB at September 13, 2005 3:32 PM

So, Timothy, every bit of criticism of the two wars being staged in Asia has been wrong?

Not from where I sit. Where's the acceptance of blame from the president or ANYONE in his administration for everything they got WRONG. Whether you believe in the ever-shifting reasons to go to war in Iraq, even the most stalwart Republican has to admit that mistakes in the conduct of the war have been made.

Lack of post-war planning?
Lack of armor?
Lack of pre-war planning?
Faulty intelligence on WMD?

Anything?

Posted by: PB at September 13, 2005 3:33 PM

Yes the MSM and Dems will probably make a big deal about this for awhile. Bush probably knows that mistakes were made at the federal level and to deny that they occurred would reduce his credibility.

OJ's right - the MSM and Dems are in full blame Bush mode but polls and other sources show that people are putting more blame on Nagin and Blanco. Bush will take the high road and figures the facts will come out eventually who screwed up (and the FEMA guy is already gone unlike Nagin and Blanco)

Posted by: AWW at September 13, 2005 3:44 PM

Reagan took responsibility for the whole Iran-Contra mess.

Bush can't be harmed by the fallout from Katrina, so why not a mea culpa ?

PB:

Yeah, a lot of mistakes were made, but that is the NORM in warfare.

What counts is how one responds to error.
So far, the Bush admin and the Pentagon have done a decent job of righting what went wrong.

Also, this has been the first real test of the all-volunteer military, and, heading into the THIRD year of the war, they have been OUTSTANDING.

The slow pace of body armor distribution, and replacement by even better armor, is due to the problems the manufacturers had in ramping up a complex manufacturing procedure, not due to any indifference on the part of the Pentagon.

Remember, there wasn't any peacetime demand for a quarter-million sets of body armor.
The manufacturers have managed to quadruple production in a mere two years, as well as to make better armor, more efficiently and more cheaply.

As for pre-war intel failures, although I get tired of repeating the following, since no rational adult could think otherwise:

EVERY intel service in the WORLD thought that Saddam had WMD. Saddam had USED WMD in the past.
The French thought that Saddam had WMD, and that he was pursuing nuclear weapons.
The Russians thought that Saddam had WMD.
The UN thought that Saddam had WMD, and Saddam did NOTHING to convince them otherwise, although he was given every opportunity to show how he had disposed of those WMD that we knew that he had.

Further, after it became clear that the CIA had biffed the Iraqi WMD question, Bush sent in a new sheriff to sweep the place clean.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2005 3:57 PM

Another master move by Rove when it turns out the administration will come out of this looking not that bad. Doubt if Hillary's smile will last too long when she realizes she'll have to tack because GWB's blanketed her wind.

And PB, "from where [you] sit" it may be time to flush and wipe.

Posted by: Genecis at September 13, 2005 4:02 PM

PB: No, none of those were failures that Bush is in any way responsible for. The first three are just lefty fantasies, and the last one was either a failure of the entire intelligence community dating back to Clinton's term & encircling the globe, or a clever way to get rid of a despot. Depending on who you ask.

Posted by: Timothy at September 13, 2005 4:08 PM

I should elaborate, before PB goes all frothy on my "lefty fantasy" comment. It's a fantasy that there was no plan. There were plans. Lots of plans, but none of them survived contact with the enemy.

In related news, the sun rose in the east today, and water flowed downhill.

Posted by: Timothy at September 13, 2005 4:11 PM

Timothy:

Interestingly, it works both ways: much of the enemy never survived contact with our plans.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 13, 2005 4:45 PM

Timothy:

Note too that most folks don't actually blame him--the easiest situation in which to accept blame.

Posted by: oj at September 13, 2005 4:53 PM

M:

Note too that Michael Brown was just about the first person forced overboard in this Administration and it comes in year 5.

Posted by: oj at September 13, 2005 5:03 PM

Michae:

Reagan took credit.

Posted by: oj at September 13, 2005 5:04 PM

PB:

Post-war planning, but we've yet to get that right in a single American war. The situation in Iraq just two years later is better than in any previous war we've fought.

Posted by: oj at September 13, 2005 5:06 PM

The President has accepted blame just as it becomes clear that the federal response was incredibly efficient.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 13, 2005 6:11 PM

There are players and played.

Posted by: oj at September 13, 2005 6:31 PM

Also as it is becoming clear that for pure ball-dropping culpability one MG Bennett C. Landreneau is about to take the gas.

Posted by: Luciferous at September 13, 2005 6:33 PM

Accepting blame also means that any calls now for an investigation lose their power to go after Bush for failing to take responsibility for the FEMA flaws and have it be any kind of revelation. THe problems of FEMA's leadership can be hashed over, but all that's out in the open now.

On the other hand, efforts to expand Bush's blame by Democrats into areas that were the responsibility of Blanco and Nagin risk taking a gattling gun to the heart of the Louisiana Democratic Party, based on all the information that has come out so far and whatever else would be revealed by the probe.

Posted by: John at September 13, 2005 10:47 PM

The second article seems to suggest that the American people are relieved that the death toll seems to be much lower than the early, perhaps overwrought, estimates. 1,000 versus 10,000 dead is a big difference.

Posted by: John Thacker [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2005 11:53 PM
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