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
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 6, 2005