A September 15 Wall Street Journal editorial falsely claimed that President Bush "is the only elected official who has so far accepted any public 'responsibility' " for the response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster and attacked Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a Democrat, for "still blaming everyone else." In fact, on September 14, Blanco said before the Louisiana legislature: "[A]s your governor, I take full responsibility."
The Journal editorial referred to Bush's September 13 statement to reporters that "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." But, contrary to the Journal's claim, Blanco also accepted responsibility. In a speech before the Louisiana legislature on September 14, Blanco said: "We all know that there were failures at every level of government; state, federal and local. At the state level, we must take a careful look at what went wrong and make sure it never happens again. The buck stops here ... and, as your governor, I take full responsibility." The Associated Press reported Blanco's comments on September 14.
From the September 15 Wall Street Journal editorial:
The political trauma that has followed Katrina is almost entirely a result of the slow, haphazard government response in the first days after the storm hit. Mayor Nagin had an evacuation plan sitting in a drawer but never got the buses in place to implement it. He then blamed everyone else. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco froze amid the crisis and failed to deploy the National Guard properly to protect those stranded at the Convention Center and Superdome. She is still blaming everyone else.
FEMA was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the storm, and former director Michael Brown showed he was clueless about events that he could see merely by turning on his TV set. Notably, he is the only public official so far to lose his job, just as Mr. Bush is the only elected official who has so far accepted any public "responsibility." Alas, tonight the President isn't likely to assail the Department of Homeland Security that he helped to create, but he at least ought to admit that federal and state disaster duties and communication need to be better sorted out. He could also praise the Pentagon's relief success.