Monday, September 05, 2005

Rove shifts responsibility to local officials

Any and all claims by administration officials (including their supporters and surrogates) that politics should be suspended while the nation attempts to cope with the enormity of the situation along the Gulf Coast should be dismissed outright.

From Josh Marshall:
As noted, the Washington Post got burned today by a "senior Bush official" who told them that Gov. Blanco of Louisiana had never declared a state of emergency in the site -- a claim the Post printed as fact. Yet the claim was demonstrably false and by late afternoon the Post had been compelled to print a correction.

This week's Newsweek contains the same false claim -- and though their recital of the anecdote is unsourced, common sense suggests that someone or some operation fed them both the same line, which neither organization checked out before running.
Now the New York Times has acknowledged that the President's chief political strategist is the source behind the effort to shift blame to the local authorities. From Laura Rozen:
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.
[Republican officials] said that Mr. Bush and his political aides rapidly changed course in what they acknowledged was a belated realization of the situation's political ramifications. As is common when this White House confronts a serious problem, management was quickly taken over by Mr. Rove and a group of associates including Mr. Bartlett. Neither man responded to requests for comment.
Ultimately, determining the cause of the late response to a predictably catastrophic disaster will be investigated. In the short run, however, the administration has worked overtime, even lying to reporters, in order to ensure that responsibility is not laid at their doorstep.

- Murphy

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