In the midst of all the chaos and craziness surrounding the Katrina cleanup (and the subsequent Bush crony cleanup and fingerpointing), 9/11 was remembered. Two great tragedies happening so close to one another and both under the vacationing eye of our president. It's great to see that New Orleans is finally beginning to rise, but sad to see that the Bush people are already working hard to expugate themselves from any blame for the terrible way in which the government responded. Fingers deserving to be pointing at the president, and while they certainly are (38% approval rating and dropping), it's sad to watch the new talking points Bush's people have come up with. The most criticized is Bush's statement "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." The prize for the best (and funniest) rebut to this statement goes to The Daily Show for showing a clip of a random woman wearing a yellow raincoat saying "someday the levees are going to break and New Orleans is going to be flooded with water" nearly two years ago. Of course other reputable news places also have reported the chances of the levees breaking. Once again, our president was ridiculously wrong.
What frustrates me is the obvious and cavalier way in which blame is now mysteriously falling on local officials rather than the federal government. Consider this quote from a September 5th article in the New York Times:
"In a reflection of what has long been a hallmark of Mr. Rove's tough political style, the administration is also working to shift the blame away from the White House and toward officials of New Orleans and Louisiana who, as it happens, are Democrats. (Nagourney, Kurnblut)"
Dude, what the heck? We now have political leaders who are absolutely unwilling to take any blame or responsibility for their actions. Bush sets a great example for young people by suggesting that it's easy to lie and get yourself out of trouble. If kids were to follow his example, they could skip classes claiming they were helping their friends work on student senate campaigns, start random wars with other kids on the playground based on some kid telling some other kid that quite possibly a third kid had information that your mom is ugly, and of course constantly lie and never see any sort of reprisal. Now that is good leadership.
Of course, there are some indications that the White House smoke screen is no longer as effective. Consider Newsweek's conventional wisdom for this week in which they scour Bush putting him down for his unwillingness to blame himself. Comparing Bush to Truman is really startling, one President willing to take accept all the blame for the countries' shortcomings while another president willing to accept none.