Is the aftermath of Katrina part of the price we are paying for Iraq? To the growing list of collateral damage caused by the Iraq war and Bush's stunningly inept leadership, we can now add the city of New Orleans. The Bush administration will surely call into question the patriotism of anyone who dares note the obvious. But it's holding back from pointing out the consequences of catastrophic decisions that is unpatriotic.
So President Bush has finally made it to the scene -- only four days after the storm. Unfortunately, there was no "bullhorn moment" a la his post-9/11 tour of Ground Zero -- no stirring rhetoric. Indeed, his staged briefing with the governors of Alabama and Mississippi did not inspire confidence or hope in anyone -- except maybe Trent Lott. And Lott's realtor. "The good news," said the president, "is that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubble of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's gong to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." Yes, he actually said that.
Finally, a politician has provided a response worthy of the magnitude of suffering -- especially the unnecessary suffering -- going on in New Orleans....
As we ask ourselves in the coming months what sort of government we want to have, and what sort of country we want to live in, and what sort of media we want, today's Meet the Press was a case study in what we don't want. The president of Jefferson Parish was telling Russert how "We have been abandoned by our own country," and broke down and wept. What was Tim's response...?
The unquestioning regurgitation of administration spin through the use of anonymous sources is the fault line of modern American journalism. You'd think that after all we've seen -- from the horrific reporting on WMD to Judy Miller and Plamegate (to say nothing of all the endless navel-gazing media panel discussions analyzing the issue) -- these guys would finally get a clue and stop making the Journalism 101 mistake of granting anonymity to administration sources using them to smear their opponents. It's time for the media to get back to doing their job and stop being the principal weapon in Team Bush's damage control arsenal.
To those who say this isn't the time to assess blame and point fingers over the Katrina tragedy, I say now is precisely the time.
Did the Dems learn nothing from 2004? Bush won because he had a double-digit lead on the question of who was going to keep us safer. Well, Katrina shoots that idea straight to hell, doesn't it? And Democrats should make clear once and for all just how illusory the president's purported strength, leadership, and steely-eyed resolve really are. The debacle in New Orleans contains all the elements necessary to show how Bush's misguided priorities -- especially his obsession with Iraq -- have left us far more vulnerable, unsafe, and insecure. So how come the Democrats are focusing on the estate tax instead of making the “We will protect you better” case?
Is the image of Judy as a principled, conscience-driven defender of the First Amendment about to give way to an image of Judy wearing her new waiver as a fig leaf allowing her to get out and sing? Given these developments, I can't wait to read the next Times Judy editorial. What's the headline going to be? "She cut a good deal!" And I can't wait to watch Floyd Abrams on Lou Dobbs again: "This is a victory for more sufficient waivers everywhere!"
Here are some great posts in the blogosophere on the troubling crackdown on the media in New Orleans: Digby Reacts to Brian Williams The Carpetbag...
The private charitable response to Katrina has been extraordinary. This wellspring of altruism is one of the great untapped resources of our country -- squandered by a president who talks a lot about the fulfillment that comes from serving "something greater than ourselves" but has repeatedly blown the opportunity to call on the American people to commit themselves to a large, collective purpose. After 9/11 he called on us all to go to Disney World. What will he ask of us in the wake of Katrina -- to stock up on "Girls Gone Wild -- Mardi Gras" DVDs? [Check Instapundit for a comprehensive list of Katrina relief organizations to donate to.]
The problem with this Sunday's Meet the Press starts with the guest selection. The only government representative on the Katrina portion of the show was New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. And Tim dutifully followed Karl Rove's script of completely shifting responsibility to the locals.
The GOP message machine has now moved into the latest stage of its Katrina response: gleeful opportunism. First there was denial, then cluelessness, then head-ducking. But after staggering through those stages, Republicans have regained their footing and are now hard at work finding the silver lining within all the death and destruction -- ie a chance to trot out their pet shibboleths and push for their pet projects. Two weeks in, Katrina has turned into an-all-you-can-eat-right-wing-policy buffet.
The monomaniacs in the media are at it again, focusing all their attention on a single story to the exclusion of all others. At least this time, the story the galloping herd has focused on is a mega-disaster and not Michael Jackson or Natalee Holloway or the Brad-Jen-Angelina triangle. But as monumental a story as Katrina is, why aren't the American media capable of covering two disasters at the same time? I'm talking, of course, about the other disaster facing our country, Iraq. You remember Iraq, don't you? I wouldn't blame you if it's slipped your mind, because it has certainly fallen off the media radar screen since Katrina came ashore -- devastating the Gulf Coast and blowing the devastation in the Persian Gulf off the front pages.
So I landed in Chicago on the dreaded red eye from LA after 5:00 this morning, and picked up the morning papers at the newsstand to keep me awake on m...
New York Times Exec Editor Bill Keller told a journalism conference yesterday that he is no longer “an absolutist” when it comes to revealing confidential sources. The Times’ new abolutist-lite strategy affords Judy Miller the wiggle-room she needs as she tries to cut a deal with Fitzgerald. The question then becomes, will the neocon sources she threw her lot in with give her the fig leaf waiver she is looking for or will they hang her out to dry?
Putting Karl Rove in charge of reconstruction efforts proves that despite the president's lofty rhetoric about "building a better New Orleans," his main concern is stanching his political bleeding.... So get ready for the New New Orleans -- Karl Rove's Big Easy -- featuring the Halliburton French Quarter, the ExxonMobil River (formerly the Mississippi), Lake MBNA (formerly Pontchartrain), and Eli Lilly music (formerly jazz).
Bush must have the worst memory since Guy Pearce in "Memento" because he's definitely been down this road before. The coming attractions for the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast play like a shot-by-shot remake of the mother of all disaster features, the reconstruction of Iraq.
This week, Brownie bagged it, Roberts bobbed-and-weaved, Bush took responsibility (kinda, sorta), Karl Rove took charge of rebuilding New Orleans (and Bush's poll numbers), the carnage in Iraq reminded us that the Bush administration has two major disasters on its hands -- and our HuffPost bloggers weighed in on it all. Be sure and check out the takes below, as well as Joseph Nye, Nathan Gardels, Tony Blankley, Jeralyn Merritt, Jay Rosen, Max Blumenthal, Seth Greenland and Wendy Button. Plus, Harry Shearer's one-of-a-kind Katrina coverage.