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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt


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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Dereliction of Duty



Editor and Publisher charges the Administration with dereliction of duty...

This time, during a catastrophe, the president did not merely dither for seven minutes, but for three days, and his top advisors followed suit....

While a rising chorus in the press has taken the White House, FEMA and the Pentagon to task for performing miserably in their response to the human disaster on the Gulf Coast, few have focused on the most telling aspect of the entire failure. It’s not just incompetence. It's a shameful lack of concern: The 9/11 "My Pet Goat" dithering on an administration-wide scale.

Simply stated, the president and his top advisers chose vacation over action.

While the media has done a good job in portraying the overall deadly failure of leadership, it has not focused enough on this deadly dereliction of duty....

This follows Bush himself remaining on vacation for more than two days after the storm hit, despite acknowledging this was the worst disaster in the nation’s history. He did take a trip during those days, not back to Washington but out to San Diego to deliver a political speech comparing his Iraq war to World War II. It got little play because nearly everyone else in the country, besides his inner circle, was focused on New Orleans instead. If this didn't have fatal consequences one would be tempted to merely say: Serves him right.

But at least Bush did start heading home late Wednesday. As he did, Secretary of State Rice was still enjoying her vacation in New York.

In fact, that night she enjoyed a few good yucks while attending the silly Broadway play "spamalot." ironically, the Bush team's performance this week did indeed seem like something out of a Monty Python skit. Each, in his or her own way, took a bunch of "silly walks."

Condi also played tennis with Monica Seles and on Thursday went on a shoe-shopping spree on Fifth Avenue until a fellow customer yelled at her for not doing her job and bloggers exposed all of this. Then she hurriedly headed back to Washington. Turns out she was overdue in getting a grip on offers to help that were pouring in from overseas governments and organizations.

Paging Andrew Card: Turns out he was Bush's Maine man....

While the 9/11 "My Pet Goat" episode was certainly illuminating, it's not certain what might have worked out better that day had the president dropped the book and taken action. But his failure to grab the reins in the hurricane catastrophe for three days this week probably doomed hundreds, or more, to death.

This is not mere incompetence, but dereliction of duty. The press should call it by its proper name.

Hat tip to America Blog.

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