Vae Victus

Classical Musings on a Modern World - Politics, Military Analysis, Dog Training, and More

Location: Chicago, IL

I am a consultant from chicago where I live with my wife, our dog, and two cats

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Blame Game

The "blame game" in the press has cycled through a couple of times. After the immediate, knee-jerk reaction of the press to blame the entire hurricane on Bush, the truth has started to come out. Evidence of the chronic and incredible levels of incompetence by Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco combined with vacuous enabling from Sen. Landrieu have started to shift the attention from Bush and his team.

Michael Brown took the fall for the administration's perceived problems in reacting to the huge calamity, and Bush took the additional step of doing a televised speech to take some of the blame and to layout his plans for reconstruction. That move by Bush has been somewhat successful. Aside from allowing Bush to get on with the (probably politically advantageous) reconstruction effort, it also allows Brown to do what he has already done - go to a paper and tell the story. In this article Brown tells the NYTimes what happened:

His portrayal of Governor Blanco is devastating despite efforts by the Times to continue pushing the blame back to Bush. While the Bush administration can be considered negligent in simply bypassing the Governor's wishes (and violating Federal law in the process), Blanco's state response was ill-prepared and inadequate. Even the best prepared Federal response would have been utterly hamstrung by the State's failures.

Yet, that brings up the next question, how was the response? In terms of timing, it was pretty good. Maybe one of the best ever organized by the Federal Government. They were on the ground in far less time than they were under other disasters despite the roadblocks and challenges presented by the Louisiana state government. If anything, Brown is most guilty of being unprepared for the intensity of the spotlight that was put on him by the press. His political naivete and inability to handle that pressure meant he had to go. Unfortunately, politics in Washington is hardball, and the exaggerations or inconsistencies on his CV were the final nail in his political coffin.

However, the Katrina story is still not finished. To this day, stories are coming out about the extraordinary rescue effort. Apparently the national guard, the coast guard and the many other agencies that helped out in the aftermath of the storm were far, FAR more successful than anyone knew. The death toll has been startlingly low given the dire predictions of the press in large measure thanks to those men and women who toiled almost anonymously to rescue the people stranded by the flooding. Their biggest problem was that their Herculean efforts were almost entirely ignored by a press secure in their belief that their eyes on the ground were seeing all there was to see. Fortunately for the victims of this storm, that belief was simply untrue.

More news and information continues to pour out, but another political casualty of the storm may prove to be the main stream media. Crying wolf after initially downplaying the storm, exaggerating the number of people lost in the storm, ignoring key aspects of the rescue effort, and attempting to place all the blame on Bush should be another nail in their coffin.


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