September 04, 2005
For the 'Excuse President,' the best defense is a good offense
Posted 2:46 pm |The Carpetbagger Report
At the end of the day, the Bush gang only knows how to run one play: shun responsibility and blame someone else. It's about the only thing the administration seems to do well.
Initially, the blame for the crisis in New Orleans was placed on the local citizens who didn't have the resources to leave. Then, the blame shifted half-heartedly to the media, as evidenced by Trent Lott's claim the other day that the federal government has responded well to the disaster, but people are being misled by reporters who only want to focus on the negative.
Today, a new target emerged: blame state and local officials.
Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.
"The federal government stands ready to work with state and local officials to secure New Orleans and the state of Louisiana," White House spokesman Dan Bartlett said. "The president will not let any form of bureaucracy get in the way of protecting the citizens of Louisiana."
For the record, when a Bush aide told the Post that Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, he or she was lying. As Kevin Drum noted, Blanco declared a state-level state of emergency on August 26, asked Bush to declare a federal state of emergency a day later, which the president did. Three days later, Hurricane Katrina arrived.
There are, it seems to me, two things to consider. The first is the genuinely shameful attempt by the White House to lash out at others in desperation, including demonstrably false claims. It's a bizarre message they've spun for themselves: this is no time for finger pointing, but have you noticed how much better we are than those local folks?
The second is the tack Bush has always taken, even as governor: the buck always stops elsewhere. Briefly during the presidential campaign, John Kerry referred to Bush's first term as the "Excuse Presidency." It didn't catch on as a campaign catch-phrase, but it accurately summarized so much of Bush's first term.
Slow economy? It's Enron's fault. No WMD in Iraq? It's the intelligence community's fault. Job losses? Clinton's fault. Record deficits? Osama bin Laden's fault. Health care crisis? Trial lawyers' fault. Frayed international alliances? France's fault.
Nothing's changed. The hurricane crisis offered Bush yet another opportunity to shoulder some responsibility and lead. I'm convinced he simply doesn't know how. As a result, we hear blame assigned to poverty-stricken families in New Orleans … and the media … and local officials.
It's beyond shameful.
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