Thursday, September 08, 2005

Does He Not Get It? Or Is He Putting It Off?

We are reaching a point where I wonder if the president is actually going to fire Brown, let alone imminently (i.e. now).

According to the AP, instead of firing Brown, they've given him an experienced and hugely competent new deputy:

Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen, just appointed as deputy to FEMA Director Michael Brown, said Thursday it was unsafe to be in New Orleans.

"We're starting an operation today going block by block through the city, requesting people to leave their homes," he said on CBS' "The Early Show." "We need everyone out so we can continue with the work of restoring this city."

Even less encouraging is this account of what the president said yesterday and the White House's iffy defense:

One of this week's most high profile fights has been between the White House and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who charged that Bush was dismissive of her request to fire FEMA Director Michael Brown during his session with House leaders Tuesday.

"Why would I do that?" Bush said, according to Pelosi, who responded, "Because of all that went wrong, with all that didn't go right last week."

"What didn't go right?" Bush said, according to Pelosi.

"Oblivious. In denial. Dangerous," she said.

CNN's Dana Bash reports that a senior administration official, who was in the meeting, denied Pelosi's account. The official said the president challenged her by asking rhetorically, "Oh you know? You've conducted an investigation?"

So it's not that the president is completely clueless -- to the point of not watching the news -- as Pelosi suggested. No, he's just gonna wait months and months for an investigation to assign blame before doing anything about it. How is this reassuring to anyone other than al Qaeda?

Heck, it even sounds like President Bush is ready to play more politics as usual. That's been the tactic of his party's political operatives, including RNC chair Ken Mehlman, who blasted Pelosi and Harry Reid for "pointing fingers in a shameless effort to tear us apart." Because, see, if you question the president or the federal response and you aren't a Republican, then you can only be engaging in a partisan political attack.

But Republicans can play that game, too:

A group called GOPUSA hit back, arguing in an email that Louisiana officials, who just happen to be Democrats, "could lose the Katrina blame game."

GOPUSA scores a hat trick: in this single reference, they manage to reduce everything to 1) the blame game, 2) partisan attacks, and 3) blaming the locals.

Karl Rove must be proud.


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