After Katrina, an Atmosphere of Finger-Pointing
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
We've been hearing about the huge relief effort under way to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr has these thoughts on how the White House has handled the crisis.
How different the atmosphere from 9/11, almost four years ago, when Americans flew their flags and rallied to a president speaking through a bullhorn at New York's ground zero. Now, as Vice President Dick Cheney is dispatched to the flood-stricken area to ride herd over the belated federal effort, the president defensively asks Americans to put off the blame game, promising his own investigation of what went wrong in the federal response to Katrina. I hope he won't be too hard on himself.
Now even tried and true conservatives are turning away from Mr. Bush. William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, tells The Washington Post, `Almost every Republican I have spoken with is disappointed.' Congress will undoubtedly examine not only the chaotic initial reaction to the flood, but why the White House cut back sharply on funding for levees and infrastructure in favor of tax cuts and the war in Iraq.
It will undoubtedly reassure you to know that the president, tanned and ready after his long Texas vacation, retains his flair for lighthearted jokes. At the end of a Cabinet session yesterday, he noted that the list of replacements for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is wide open. And he added, `Make sure you notice when I said that, I looked right at Al Gonzales, who can really create speculation.' Attorney General Gonzales is opposed by many right-wing Bush supporters because of his ambiguous stand on abortion. Kristol said that nominating him would utterly demoralize many of the president's supporters.
There'll be controversy over the Supreme Court, but Katrina is not likely to go away. Liberals and conservatives alike want to know not only how Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Michael Chertoff, head of the Homeland Security Department, could have been among the last to know about the chaos in the convention center. But they will also want answers to the larger question of whether it was a good idea to lump the emergency agency into a massive Homeland Security Department to be administered by political cronies. This is Daniel Schorr.
ROBERT SIEGEL (Host): This is NPR, National Public Radio.
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