September 13, 2005

Bush takes responsibility for federal failings on Katrina

President George W. Bush today said that he would accept blame for the federal shortcomings on the response to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

After the monster hurricane struck the Gulf Coast, federal agencies, including FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security waited, ostensibly for requests from the state governors in those states. But while they waited, people in all three states suffered.

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government," Bush said at joint White House news conference with the president of Iraq.

"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.

I've been very critical of the failings of the locals on the ground in the region, including New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco - and deservedly so. They dropped the ball as it applied to their local residents. They had the obligation to do things sooner than they did; they had the obligation to make moves prior to the storm's arrival -- and both failed in their test of serving and protecting their constituents.

However, the federal bureacracy failed as well. When it became obvious that the locals were not getting the job done, the feds had the obligation to step in and help the people in those locales. President Bush has finally stepped to the plate -- albeit late -- and taken the burdon on his shoulders, as well he should. However, he should have done so sooner.

Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin should both likewise step to the fore and admit their failings in this sordid disaster. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for them, however.

Posted by mhking at September 13, 2005 02:00 PM | TrackBack

All government whether it was local, state and especially federal did some piss-poor preparation. Katrina was more than the local and state entities could handle and it is a game of he said/she said on if and when federal assistance was asked for or needed. One thing for sure is that when the images were almost immediately plastered all over the televisions of America, it should not have taken 4-5 days for food and water to be dropped even if the residents were not immediately evacuated. G.W. Bush has finally "stepped to the plate", as you put it because he and the Rovemaster can not spin this mess in a direction to make them look good. I've heard the criticism of the mayor of New Orleans and the things he should have done, but what we must remember, he is only a local mayor responsible for his city and he did get folks to the Superdome and the Convention center as per their city's plan...he also called for the evacuation of the city and a lot of folks chose to stay. As far as politicians go, all of them basically suck, democrats and the republicans.....the citizens in this tragedy should have come first, and sadly they did not.

Posted by: B.P. at September 13, 2005 02:42 PM

This is what leadership looks like. Harry Truman would understand.

Posted by: Mark at September 13, 2005 04:30 PM

Typical slanted AP coverage, but I'll deal with that in a bit. First, I have to deal with B.P. and his notions that Mayor Nagin did everything right pre-landfall and President Bush did this only because he can no longer spin this. The official evacuation plan was not "ship everybody to the Superdome", but "ship everybody out of town". The Red Cross said that they had many beds in shelters in Louisiana that weren't filled before Katrina made landfall; shelters that Nagin should have sent his buses to instead of the Superdome. I don't know whether he knew those shelters were available - if so, that's another full-Nagin failure; if not, the failure falls back onto either the Red Cross or the state (I'm not one of those that would fault Nagin for not sending the buses "out of town" without a destination).

Will we now see out of B.P. and the LeftStreamMedia any pressure on Governor Blanco and Nagin to admit fault (something that the media hasn't done at the same time they sought to blame Bush for everything), or will they simply use the proverbial inch that Bush gave them to drag him a mile and continue to whitewash the stronger state/local culpability? At least B.P. seems willing to hold the people that could have left but didn't culpable.

It's not often that I can say that the New York Times offers a less-slanted account, but in this case, they do. The AP uses loaded terms throughout their story, while the NYT avoids it.

Also covered in both the NYT and AP stories is the complaint of Governor Blanco regarding the recovery of dead bodies. While the AP merely presented the Blanco side that body removal is a federal issue, the NYT covered all 3 sides. FEMA expected the state to take the lead (which the NYT notes that Blanco finally did after her obligatory bitch session, something the AP saw fit to not mention), and the company just wanted SOMEONE to take the lead.

Posted by: steveegg at September 13, 2005 05:27 PM


Under what law could the Feds just drop in without being asked? Why couldn't Mayor "Memorial Bus Pool" Nagin evacuate residents to anywhere outside NO, with over 500+ buses lined up? Why did Gov. "24-hour wait period to make up her mind" Blanco not sign a request for relief ("Nobody told me what I needed to ask"). Who decided to keep Red Cross and Salvation Army from distributing food and water at the Convention Center and the Superdome? Was that the evacuation plan, to starve people out of New Orleans? Hey, if the feds are in charge of everything, why have state and local governmens at all?

Contrast the chaos in New Orleans with the efforts on Mississippi and Alabama. New Orleans is the face of Democratic policies and politics. Look and weep.

Posted by: sam at September 13, 2005 06:00 PM

I agree that all sides did not perform well in the heat of this crisis. I appreciate President Bush at least acknowledging this and taking responsibility. But like michael, steve, and sam, I don't expect Gov. Blanco, Mayor Nagin or Sen. Landrieu to make any acknowlegements of error on their behalf. Like sam, why is the story of Mississippi and Alabama is being ignored?There were plenty of blacks who lived in those areas, but they made it out okay? Their story doesn't fit the mold used to bash Bush. Isn't that racism itself? Does the liberal media in the words of Kanye West "hate black people"?

Posted by: conservblack at September 13, 2005 06:47 PM