Here’s another failing of the Bush White House: they don’t know when to keep their mouth shut.
Today — although suffering and horror continued on the Gulf Coast — troops streaming in to help started to give the appearance that things were looking up. It could have cauterized the wound which was causing the White House such political damage.
And if the White House had just kept its mouth shut, people might have forgotten what happened — or didn’t happen — earlier this week.
But, we all knew what the Bush administration’s strategy for this blunder was going to be, and now they’ve trotted it out. The banner headline on Washington Post.com?
White House Shifts Blame
Tens of thousands of people spent a fifth day awaiting evacuation from this ruined city, as Bush administration officials blamed state and local authorities for what leaders at all levels have called a failure of the country’s emergency management.
… Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state’s emergency operations center said Saturday.
The administration had sought control over National Guard units, normally under control of the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request, noting that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. State authorities suspected a political motive behind the request. “Quite frankly, if they’d been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals,” said the source, who is an adviser and does not have the authority to speak publicly.
… Bush, who has been criticized, even by supporters, for the delayed response to the disaster, used his weekly radio address to put responsibility for the failure on lower levels of government. The magnitude of the crisis “has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities,” he said. “The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need, especially in New Orleans. And that is unacceptable.”