We all know by now that President Bush has made the bracing admission that he’s “responsible” for the federal government’s abysmal performance in the wake of Katrina:
“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.”
There’s no “extent” involved George. The feds just plain didn’t do their jobs, period. Why don’t you admit the failure, ask the victims to forgive you and get on with it? Instead of pfumphering around with conditional statements and half-baked defenses.
And you see the above statement doesn’t mean he admits any mistakes. No, you won’t hear him saying that since well, he can’t remember making any (you remember that bumbling answer at a past press conference?).
The Times story continues:
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.”
Given what’s happened over the past two weeks does he need to even ask the question? To any reasonable person, the federal performance during Katrina and its aftermath is proof positive that it is NOT capable of dealing with such a terror attack or a natural catastrophe. If he’s got to ask it it means he’s hopelessly out of touch with reality. And this man’s going to lead the recovery?
Here’s how the New York Times characterized his the speech:
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.
The reporters get it precisely right when they write of Bush’s “edg[ing] up to a buck-stops-here statement, however conditional.” Bush never learns from his mistakes because he never makes any. He takes responsibility to avoid taking real responsibility and seems to think that making a minimally candid statement will avoid having to make more substantive ones (like a full apology, an expression of contrition, etc.) in the future.
Even as he made a half-hearted statement saying he wouldn’t defend the government’s performance, he’s still trying to spin:
“I’m not going to defend the process going in, but I am going to defend the people who are on the front line of saving lives.”
“Those Coast Guard kids pulling people out of the floods did heroic work,” he said. “The first responders on the ground, whether they be state folks or local folks, did everything they could.”
Let’s not talk about what the Coast Guard’s doing now, George. Let’s talk about what you didn’t do and FEMA didn’t do when those future victims were still alive clinging to a chair or a timber in a rapidly flooding attic and hoping against hope for rescue (which never came). It’s shameful really.