Sunday, September 04, 2005

Broder Reports from Neptune

Nearly everyone on planet earth can tell that the Bush administration did a poor job preparing for and responding to Katrina, and that the political consequences for Bush are potentially ominous. And it isn’t just Paul Krugman who is saying so, though he may have said it best. The likes of David Brooks, Howard Fineman, Mort Zuckerman, Gloria Borger, Jim Pinkerton and Jack Cafferty have noticed that Bush has some serious explaining to do. Some are even starting to notice the connection between the Bush administration's incompetence in New Orleans and it's incompetence in dealing with Iraq.

But David Broder sees it differently. Today’s column finds that "it took almost no time for President Bush to put his stamp on the national response to the tragedy that has befallen New Orleans and the Gulf Coast."

one thing seems certain: [Katrina] makes the previous signs of political weakness for Bush, measured in record-low job approval ratings, instantly irrelevant and opens new opportunities for him to regain his standing with the public.

We have seen this before. Bill Clinton was foundering in his third year in office when the destruction of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City shocked the nation and set the stage for his flawless performance of the symbolic rites of healing and comfort for the victims.

Broder doesn’t seem to notice that one element is missing– flawless performance, whether in performing "symbolic rites" or in paying attention to the basic requirements of governance, the Bush administration’s performance has been dismal. People are noticing, but not David Broder.

Broder makes some reasonable points in the last half of his column about the weakness and inadequacy of Congress in setting policy and performing its oversight functions. But in evaluating Bush’s preparation for and response to Katrina, he is bizarrely out of touch.