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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Faint Praise: Presidential Baby Steps Edition

From today's WH press availability by President Bush:

Q Mr. President, given what happened with Katrina, shouldn't Americans be concerned if their government isn't prepared to respond to another disaster or even a terrorist attack?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government. And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility. I want to know what went right and what went wrong. I want to know how to better cooperate with state and local government, to be able to answer that very question that you asked: Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack or another severe storm. And that's a very important question. And it's in our national interest that we find out exactly what went on and -- so that we can better respond.

Ah, how nice. Perhaps my fears were misplaced concerning the soft bigotry of low expectations of our President (among the media, the electorate and most certainly among Congressional Republicans).

After watching our illustrious President screw up virtually every important domestic and foreign policy issue over the last 4-5 years, I was beginning to suspect that W is inured to wholesale failure (except of course when it comes to the practice of divisive politics that comfort the wealthy and religious extremists -- these are goals he has achieved with flying colors).

Gee, the chief executive is taking rhetorical responsibility. As Walter Mondale said in his 2002 debate with Norm Coleman, how charming.

So, today we give faint praise to President Bush for acknowledging the positively obvious. Maybe now he can consider acknowledging the normatively necessary: that taking responsibility involves an independent, reality-based attempt to understand what went wrong, how to fix it, whom to fire and---most importantly---which faith-based policies to jettison.

I know, I know....Baby steps.

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