Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bush claims responsibility for Katrina failures

Pinch me.

Seriously, pinch me.

From the Times:

President Bush said on Tuesday that he bore responsibility for any failures of the federal government in its response to Hurricane Katrina and suggested that he was unsure whether the country was adequately prepared for another catastrophic storm or terrorist attack.

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government, and to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Mr. Bush said in an appearance in the East Room with President Jalal Talabani of Iraq. "I want to know what went right and what went wrong."

In response to a reporter who asked if Americans, in the wake of the hurricane, should be concerned about the government's ability to respond to another disaster or a terrorist attack, Mr. Bush said: "I want to know how to better cooperate with state and local government, to be able to answer that very question that you asked: Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack or another severe storm? And that's a very important question."

Throughout his nearly five years in office, Mr. Bush has resisted publicly acknowledging mistakes or shortcomings, and his willingness in this case to edge up to a buck-stops-here statement, however conditional, was evidence of how shaken his presidency has been by the political fallout from the government's handling of the storm.

It also set the stage for a White House effort to pivot from dealing with urgent rescue and relief efforts to setting out a vision of how the federal government could help rebuild devastated communities and re-establish Mr. Bush's image as a leader.

Well, good luck with that.

For now, I'm just, uh, flabbergasted. Not necessarily impressed -- he's the president, after all, he should claim responsibility and show some leadership -- but surprised that he actually stood up to acknowledge failure and to take (some of) the blame for what went wrong.

Or, no. Not surprised. This president has been beaten down. He's no longer the 9/11 president, he's the Katrina president. His approval rating is way, way down, and, finally, neither the media nor the American people nor the Democrats nor even members of his own party are allowing him a free ride. In other words, he's desperate and he needed to do something, anything. And that something, anything was something he'd never done before.

Which is a start. I suppose.

Bookmark and Share


  • Acknowledging "responsibility" for the screw ups of others is not the same thing as admitting mistakes. He never actually said the federal government made mistakes and his taking responsibility was of the type in which the leader takes responsibility for something bad, but doesn't really acknowledge specific mistakes.

    After the Bay of Pigs, JFK came out and said, in effect, It's my fault. Bush didn't do that--IMO, all he did was say that, if there were problems with the federal response, then I'm responsible in the end. A "courageous" show of leadership that is ultimately meaningless.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:45 AM  

  • Q. What is Bush's position on Roe vs. Wade?

    A. He doesn't really care how people get out of New Orleans.

    (sorry if you didn't think it was funny, but you might as well hear it here first instead of in your inbox)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:29 PM  

  • No, I agree with you, Marc. Which is why I said that he only took "some" of the blame. But maybe I overreached. Maybe he took none at all.

    Either way, it was meaningless, merely an attempt to do what he (and his handlers) thought could deflect criticism in the media. Now he can say that he's taken responsibility and that it's time to move on. Plus, he wasn't specific about anything. Just what went wrong? Just what could have been done better? Just how did it all go so wrong?

    And it's true, unfortunately, that much of the criticism levelled at Bush has been unfair. See Kanye West, for example. As I said in a recent post, I don't think this had anything to do with race or with a lack of compassion on Bush's part. It had to do with incompetence. That's what's in the White House.

    You make a good point, Alison. Things did seem to go more smoothly (if that's the right word) last year, though, of course, those Florida hurricanes didn't do what Katrina did to New Orleans. And here's what interesting. Michael Brown was head of FEMA last year, wasn't he? Where was all the criticism? Where was all that talk about his lack of credentials? I'm not saying that he did a good job in the aftermath to Katrina, but, more than anything, isn't he just the scapegoat for a much wider degree of incompetence throughout the federal government? On this, it's good to see that attention has now turned to Chertoff.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 12:04 AM  

  • By the way, it's nice to have a fellow Torontonian comment at The Reaction, Alison. E-mail me if you'd like to exchange links.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 12:07 AM  

  • Finally he did something right. Admitting his mistakes should be a fine start. However, people will forgive him if he work hard in terms of reviving the glory of Louisianna. Furthermore, the recovery should be done fast and with consistency.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:08 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home