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 effort is being directed by Mr. Bush’s chief political adviser, Karl Rove, and his communications director, Dan Bartlett. It began late last week after Congressional Republicans called White House officials to register alarm about what they saw as a feeble response by Mr. Bush to the hurricane, according to Republican Congressional aides.
Unfortunately for Mr. Rove and Mr. Bartlett, there’s an annoying little concept that seems to have escaped them. It’s called “the truth” and it’s backed up by voluminous records kept by the media, including bloggers. For example, the White House’s attempt to shift the blame to local officials in Louisiana such as the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of the state — who just happen to be Democrats — by saying they were slow to request federal aid has already been shot down; they asked for it before the storm hit, and the state declared (PDF) a State of Emergency on Friday, August 26 while Miami and certain bloggers were still recovering from their brush with Katrina and warning New Orleans to get ready for it. (Did you notice, by the way, that the governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, gets off scot-free from any fingerpointing by the righties? Could it be that Mr. Barbour was once the chairman of the Republican National Committee? Nah…)
Thirty-six hours before the hurricane hit, the mayor was urging the citizens to get out, and there were eerily prescient statements by people who were saying that they didn’t have the means or the vehicles to escape. (By the way, the Washington Post later ran a correction to their Sunday article.) As TPM notes, Newsweek is swallowing the bullshit line, but the truth is out there and we will show it to them.
So if the White House spin machine and the Party Of Moral Values and Personal Responsibility wants to do some political damage control by blaming someone else for their negilience and baring contempt for the truth, we’re ready. Or as someone they worship once said, “Bring ’em on.”