Suggesting N.O. Officials Share Blame for N.O. Flooding? How Rovian

September 6th, 2005 1:48 PM

There was loads of competition, but perhaps the most cynical anti-Bush story to appear in the Times from the tragedy-filled holiday weekend came Monday from Adam Nagourney and Anne Kornblut, "White House Enacts a Plan To Ease Political Damage" which worked the cliches of a sinister Karl Rove trying to shift hurricane blame to New Orleans' Democrats.

They begin: "Under the command of President Bush's two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan this weekend to contain the political damage from the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. It orchestrated visits by cabinet members to the region, leading up to an extraordinary return visit by Mr. Bush planned for Monday, directed administration officials not to respond to attacks from Democrats on the relief efforts, and sought to move the blame for the slow response to Louisiana state officials, according to Republicans familiar with the White House plan."

The Times warns away anyone who would suggest state and local officials had anything to do with the tragedy of errors that engulfed New Orleans: "In a reflection of what has long been a hallmark of Mr. Rove's tough political style, the administration is also working to shift the blame away from the White House and toward officials of New Orleans and Louisiana who, as it happens, are Democrats. 'The way that emergency operations act under the law is the responsibility and the power, the authority, to order an evacuation rests with state and local officials," Mr. Chertoff said in his television interview. 'The federal government comes in and supports those officials.' That line of argument was echoed throughout the day, in harsher language, by Republicans reflecting the White House line."

For the second time the Times faults the Secretary of State for not being in D.C. while the water was in New Orleans: "[Condoleezza] Rice did not return to Washington until Thursday, after she was spotted at a Broadway show and shopping for shoes, an image that Republicans said buttressed the notion of a White House unconcerned with tragedy."

One wonders how often the Times criticized Warren Christopher or Madeleine Albright, (secretaries of state under Clinton) for not heading off to the scene of natural disasters.

A longer version of this article can be found at TimesWatch, along with many more pieces from the weekend on the paper's blame-Bush slant.