Finger-point first, ask questions later
Too Conservative and cbeer of the Mason Conservative are both embarassed. I am too, but not for the same reason that they are.
First, I am still wondering where New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco were throughout this disaster. Obviously, they play a huge part in the activity of New Orleans, and they hold direct power there. Emergency plans and preparation primarily fall on their shoulders. But fingers continue to be pointed, and ultimately, any event can make its way back to the president. So while Galveston, Texas residents were ready to get away from Rita, and had such a plan ready for years, somehow it is the federal government, not those at the local and state levels, that gets responsibility.
Secondly, what would one expect the President to do with the hurricane so close? One can continue to debate whether or not the buses in New Orleans could have been used, but what would the federal government use to evacuate the city? (Interestingly enough, many residents from Galveston were bused inland). What safe places in New Orleans could the federal government put displaced people that New Orleans officials could not have thought of? Additional support for the levees may not have been possible in that period of time (I am no engineer, so I will not pretend to know that, but it seems pretty doubtful that it would have been feasible).
And let's not forget the media, who have only taken notice when Mayor Nagin made his little comment concerning a "chocolate city", unless there was some more blame to heap on the president.
Throughout this whole debate, President Bush has been nothing more than a scapegoat. Is this to say that FEMA and the executive branch could not have done more? Of course not. The federal government did make some mistakes concerning this disaster, but the local and state governments are not innocent either. And rather than take responsibility, they've placed a bullseye squarely on the White House. Blanco and Nagin were fully capable of handling the situation, but President Bush, who is also responsible for the troops abroad, the economy, the environment, and everything else apparently, is expected to turn all his attention towards a single event that can be covered by many others.
Which brings me to my next question: why would anyone ever want to be President of the United States, where you cannot even sneeze without 100 million Americans and a billion people world-wide knowing? Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
As a side-note, do not take this is anything towards the people of New Orleans. I am entirely sympathetic towards their troubles, but their local leaders neglected local problems and the media just cannot ignore the possibility of selling a few more newspapers.