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Sep. 4th, 2005

I watched the George Stephanopoulos show this morning so I could see the footage of Landrieu in the helicopter pointing out the one crane. I'm not sure what's going on with that. She talked about how pitiful it was that there was one little crane there, but after the segment George S. said that, according to the Army Corps of Engineers (who haven't seemed reluctant to criticize Bush so far), the break was already 70% closed at that point, and closing it quickly wasn't a priority because the water level had dropped. It's not clear to me whether there was more equipment there when Bush flew over (and if there was, whether it was moved to a more critical area). I think they're going to show that on 60 Minutes tonight when Landrieu is on. In any case, I think calling it a faked levee repair for a photo op is unwarranted. Sure, it was a photo op for Bush, and he smirked his clueless way through it, because that's what he does, but the repair itself wasn't faked.

Landrieu was a wreck in that interview with George S., by the way. She isn't the glib sorority gal stonewalling Anderson Cooper anymore, not by a long shot. But she still just doesn't get it. In the helicopter, she was pointing out all the "camps" that belong to the wealthy that got washed away, including hers. Then she was (I think) trying to make the point that New Orleans was worth rescuing because it was a major center of interstate commerce. FedEx trucks and railroads underwater, et cetera. But that shouldn't even make a difference, I wanted to tell her. People should be rescued because THEY'RE PEOPLE. New Orleans should be salvaged because IT'S PART OF OUR COUNTRY. You don't have to justify it!

She also said that if one more person criticized her sheriffs, including the president, she might "have to punch them." And she promised that people had died holding babies in their arms. She said she knew it must have happened. She thought it must have happened at least ten times. No, maybe a thousand times. Then she promised "as a senator" that it had happened. Like we wouldn't believe such a thing? Of course people died with their children! It was weird. I got the very uncomfortable feeling that she was kind of . . . performing. I hate saying that, but she was so disconnected and so forced. I think this is all part of the rush to allocate blame between the feds and state- and local-level officials. Landrieu and the mayor and Bush and FEMA are all in CYA mode. And it's just plain bizarre that Landrieu begs the president to appoint a cabinet-level official to take charge when YESTERDAY the governor of Louisiana was rejecting Bush's legal memorandum requesting a federal takeover. WTF? Apparently the senator and the governor don't see eye to eye. Chertoff announced this morning that the feds are in control of NOLA. (Oh yeah, NOW you step up. . . .)

Something went terribly wrong. Bush is president, but he doesn't want to accept any responsibility for the suffering he could have helped prevent. That alone is not just damning--it's criminal. What others could have or should have done does not excuse him of responsibility. He failed. He refuses to lead. I feel so certain to my core that this is the message that must not be lost in a sea of minutiae over captions and photo ops. And it's getting lost. I see it happening.

I fear I'm looking like some kind of Republican apologist with these posts. I'm not trying to be. I'm harder on "my" side because I want to leave the exaggeration and lying to "their" side. That's what THEY do, that's not what we do. I'm so convinced that this administration and those who support them are in the wrong that I don't see the need for being anything less than being absolutely objective and careful with the truth. I think the truth is on our side--all we have to do is see that it gets told. If the rest of the country isn't interested in the truth, I don't know what to do. I understand why some people believe we've gone as far as we can go by playing fair, and that anything goes now. I can't do it, but I understand it. I may yet be talked into it.