In regard to Katrina, Thomas Lindaman writes:
As far as New Orleans is concerned, any delay in FEMA's response can be laid at the feet of then-Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco. Federal law requires that the Governor of a state give permission for FEMA or National Guard units from other states to enter the state. Bush talked to Blanco three days before Katrina made landfall, and Blanco declined help. Then Blanco did not submit the permission to the correct FEMA office, which caused further delays...and further destruction.
Are right-wingers trying to tell us that the call from Blanco somehow caused the pre-hurricane briefing about levee failure scenarios to magically not happen? That is what the fuss was about: Bush was briefed about the scenario of levees failing, but afterwards said no one could have anticipated the levees failing. The call from Blanco doesn't address that at all.
Sorry, but Blanco mistakenly thinking the levees were intact early that day does not excuse the Bush administration's inaction for three days after everyone knew the levees were breached. She specifically said that she was unsure of that information and that it could change. In fact the information did change, a few hours later, as reported by several news sources.
That evening, around 8PM CDT, Blanco issued a request to Bush: Mr. President, we need your help. We need everything you've got.
Bush went to bed without responding. The next day, Bush was playing guitar in California.
Bush was being told by FEMA that they were woefully unprepared for this. This does not change the fact that the President did not take charge of the situation to make sure that FEMA would have the resources that they need.
The USS Saipan about 25 miles off shore when the hurricane had passed over, it had been tracking the storm the entire time. That ship had a couple thousand hospital beds, dozens of helicopters, and tons of emergency supplies just waiting for the order from the President... an order that did not come until days later. Yes, Blanco may not have filled out the proper request form somewhere down the line, or may have spoken to the wrong person in the wrong office, etc. Of course mistakes were made. That's the whole point of having an emergency management agency. Experts can help local officials minimize damage from mistakes. FEMA was the expert. They are the ones with the authority, money, equipment and personnel to handle an emergency. The mayor and the governor are not supposed to know how to do everything. In many cases they, like any good corporate leader, are simply supposed to know who to call.
Nagin and Blanco did know who to call. They called the experts. The experts didn't know what to do. That's the issue.
So why are some people trying to "Blame Blanco" for this? Well, you know how your racist aunt forwards emails to you about how Obama is from Kenya? Emails like that were being forwarded to assign blame to Blanco.
More on the "Blame Blanco" emails can be found at Snopes:
Think about this: Bush took an emergency flight back to Washington to sign a law allowing Congress to intervene in the Schiavo case, yet when there is a hurricane flooding a major US city, he's playing guitar. No one is angry at Bush that the levees failed... there wasn't much he could do about it. What people ARE angry about is that he and his agencies were completely unprepared to cope with the fact that they did.
And that isn't even mentioning that Bush explicitly lied to everyone when he said that no one anticipated that it could happen.