Sunday, September 04, 2005

Photo ops may or may not feed babies...

... But I am certain they are a way to cool the political fire resulting from an inept, fatal response to Katrina.

I'm very sick of these photo ops. "I've come to the Red Cross..."

The media needs to ask itself: do you show these photo ops because 1. it's the president and 2. he is asking for money for the Red Cross, which is important. But, an important counter point is that he is doing these ops to save his political hide.

Bush's political frailty and the effort to revive his image are evaluated in the New York Times. Excerpt:

As Mr. Bush spoke, Vice President Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, the president's senior political adviser, listened on the sidelines, as did Dan Bartlett, the counselor to the president and Mr. Bush's overseer of communications strategy. Their presence underscored how seriously the White House is reacting to the political crisis it faces.

"Where our response is not working, we'll make it right," Mr. Bush said, as Mr. Bartlett, with a script in his hand, followed closely.

His speech came as analysts and some Republicans warned that the White House's response to the crisis in New Orleans, which has been widely seen as slow and ineffectual, could further undermine Mr. Bush's authority at a time when he was already under fire, endangering his Congressional agenda.

Frank Rich, of course, has it exactly right:

As always, the president's first priority, the one that sped him from Crawford toward California, was saving himself: he had to combat the flood of record-low poll numbers that was as uncontrollable as the surging of Lake Pontchartrain. It was time, therefore, for another disingenuous pep talk, in which he would exploit the cataclysm that defined his first term, 9/11, even at the price of failing to recognize the emerging fiasco likely to engulf Term 2.

Mayor Ray Nagin, exclusive on CNN this morning, is asking for psychological and physical health evaluations for the Fire and Police departments of New Orleans.

NY Times has a story on the law enforcement officials abandoning their jobs because of the extreme stress.

Stephen J. Hedges of the Chicago Tribune filed this unbelievable report from the USS Bataan:

ON THE USS BATAAN -- While federal and state emergency planners scramble to get more military relief to Gulf Coast communities stricken by Hurricane Katrina, a massive naval goodwill station has been cruising offshore, underused and waiting for a larger role in the effort.

The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore.

The Bataan rode out the storm and then followed it toward shore, awaiting relief orders. Helicopter pilots flying from its deck were some of the first to begin plucking stranded New Orleans residents.

But now the Bataan's hospital facilities, including six operating rooms and beds for 600 patients, are empty. A good share of its 1,200 sailors could also go ashore to help with the relief effort, but they haven't been asked. The Bataan has been in the stricken region the longest of any military unit, but federal authorities have yet to fully utilize the ship.

The legislative agenda has been placed on hold for the Congress, NY Times LINK.

It Affects You blogs the Republicans who are shamed by the inept response from the federal government. Names such as Romney and Frist draw attention.

Some failures already cited in the Washington Post, Excerpt:

Among the flaws they cited: Failure to take the storm seriously before it hit and trigger the government's highest level of response. Rebuffed offers of aid from the military, states and cities. An unfinished new plan meant to guide disaster response. And a slow bureaucracy that waited until late Tuesday to declare the catastrophe "an incident of national significance," the new federal term meant to set off the broadest possible relief effort.

Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff defends FEMA chief Michael "Brownie" Brown, NY Times LINK.

The plight of the poor, and their inability to evacuate, in the Washington Post.

Lynne Duke and Teresa Wiltz on race, poverty and the hurricane in the Washington Post:

But Katrina blew open the box, putting the urban poor front and center, with images of once-invisible folks pleading from rooftops, wading through flooded streets, starving at the Superdome and requiring a massive federal outlay of resources. Or dead, wheelchairs pushed up against the wall, a blanket thrown over still bodies. The Other is there, staring us in the face, exposing our issues on an international stage. It is at once an embarrassment -- how did we go from can-do to can't-do-for-our-own? -- and a challenge, critics charge: How do we stop ignoring the folks in the box, the inner-city destitute, and realize that their fate is ours as well?

David Brooks foresees a "bursting point":

Reaganite conservatism was the response to the pessimism and feebleness of the 1970's. Maybe this time there will be a progressive resurgence. Maybe we are entering an age of hardheaded law and order. (Rudy Giuliani, an unlikely G.O.P. nominee a few months ago, could now win in a walk.) Maybe there will be call for McCainist patriotism and nonpartisan independence. All we can be sure of is that the political culture is about to undergo some big change.

We're not really at a tipping point as much as a bursting point. People are mad as hell, unwilling to take it anymore.


Blogger Rex Publius said...

great post.

11:56 AM  
Blogger dave bones said...

very interesting perspective.All the UK media. left and right says the same as you.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


7:28 PM  
Blogger zen said...

Indeed. Have you read the open letter from the NO Times-Picayune? Stinging, and exactly the call for accountability that is long overdue for this administration.
Sadly as much weight as this issue carries, I will not be surprised if the smoke and mirrors will allow them to slither out of this again.

The most accurate definition of this latest folly is the realization that this is an obscene dereliction of duty.

8:32 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Dave, thanks. Zen, yes I saw the NO TP letter. Brownie has got to go. Chertoff looks like Rasputin. These are weird times.

10:52 PM  

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