By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
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By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
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WASHINGTON, D.C.-Starting with President Bush himself-and with his mother-Republicans are attempting to do damage control for the beleaguered administration.
Barbara Bush famously told the press those poor people fleeing Hurricane Katrina-the ones stranded on their rooftops and searching for loved ones and warehoused at the Superdome and the New Orleans Convention Center-are faring better at the Houston Astrodome than they were at home before the storm hit.
Most importantly, the Republican politicians are buoyed by polls that show almost three quarters of all Republicans support the president's handling of the disaster. They are accusing Louisiana's Democratic governor, Kathleen Blanco, of screwing up the federal response. And they are having fun playing Blanco off against New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who told CNN's "American Morning" Monday that he had met Blanco and Bush on Air Force One last Friday and urged the two to get together and do something. I was ready to move, Nagin said. The governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision to take over the Guard.
Blanco, in turn, complained on ABC that the feds didn't act fast enough. We didn't have enough resources, she said. We were begging for resources, too.
According to the Bush damage-control people, the president got screwed up by more than this do-nothing boob Democrat. He was trying to help out even before the hurricane struck by making Louisiana a disaster area 48 hours before landfall. He did that at the request of Blanco. And he was out there pleading with Blanco to order a mandatory evacuation order.
The president's supporters are suggesting Nagin and Blanco are two big cowards for having fled New Orleans for Baton Rouge before the storm hit. "Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin weren't exactly Pataki and Guiliani," a political adviser with close ties to the White House told the Washington Times. Louisiana Republican senator David Vitter added his voice to the chorus attacking Blanco, claiming she was too slow in calling out the National Guard. The Times gave Blanco another kick by pointing out that her political opponents had always said she was indecisive and unprepared for the rigors of the job.
The president's own dad told Larry King he'd had just about enough of people attacking his son. The media has a fascination with the blame game, the senior Mr. Bush said on CNN. "There was one particularly vicious comment that the president didn't care, was insensitive on ethnicity, insensitive about race. That one hurt, because I know this president, and I know he does care.
Old man Bush further said he kinda figures something weird is going on with all these people attacking the president. How is it, he asked King, that Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, the former National Republican chair, was flying around every day and had not heard one complaint about the National Guard being too stretched in Iraq to respond at home?
Not all conservatives joined the bucket brigade. Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the treasury under Reagan, said "Americans are being brainwashed" by Bush and have been reduced to a mentality "like that of the brown shirts that followed Hitler.
Additional reporting: Isabel Huacuga