Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Ultimately the President's Failure?
New Orleans’ local newspaper, the Times-Picayune (search), says every FEMA official should be fired for their, “feeble response to Hurricane Katrina." And the paper’s editors say the aftermath is "ultimately the president’s failure."
But the paper has had nothing but praise for the performance of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (search), finding no fault with his failure to enforce the mandatory evacuation order he issued last Sunday. That order was issued only after the director of the National Hurricane Center called Nagin at home on Saturday night and after President Bush pleaded with the mayor the next day to evacuate New Orleans in a mandatory way.
Some people, however, wouldn’t leave no matter what, including 60- year-old John Martin, a self-described druid and voodoo priest, who says he couldn’t evacuate New Orleans because, he said one of his four snakes had gone missing.
Punching the President?
Louisiana Democrats are fiercely defending their local response to Katrina. Senator Mary Landrieu says, if the president criticizes her state’s handling of the disaster, she, "might likely have to punch him." And Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard (search) says officials at the top of the totem pole, "need to be chain-sawed off," federal officials, he means.
But the public seems to think officials at the state and local level should share the blame. Sixty-seven percent say the federal government wasn’t prepared for the disaster, while 75 percent say state and local governments were not prepared. Fifty-five percent say the president is not to blame for the government’s slow response.
Listening to the Times?
A New York Times editor, oh, by the way, asked, "Why New Orleans’ levees remained so inadequate? Where was Congress before it wandered off to vacation engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area’s flood protection?"
The answer may be that they were reading old "Times" editorials. In 1993, the Times wrote that Washington should, "resist pressure to spend more on flood-control projects." In 1997, the Times praised moderate Republicans for protecting the environment by blocking flood-control spending.
And in April of this year, the Times ripped a Senate bill that would have injected $17 billion into flood-control measures, including what the Times called a $2.7 billion boondoggle on the Mississippi River, saying that bill was "bad legislation."
Sean Penn to the Rescue
And finally, upon hearing the plight of New Orleans residents, actor and political activist Sean Penn (search) sprang into action, flying to the beleaguered city to help in the rescue effort. But it was Penn who wound up needing to be rescued after the boat he was piled in sprang a leak just seconds after launching. Penn and his entourage, including a personal photographer, were seen frantically bailing the water out of the shrinking vessel with a plastic cup.
Adding insult to injury, the boat’s motor failed to start, forcing Penn to paddle himself down the flooded streets of New Orleans.
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report
With more than 35 years of journalism experience to draw from, Brit Hume currently serves as a senior political analyst for FOX News Channel (FNC) and contributes to all major political coverage. Hume also is regular panelist on FOX's weekly public affairs program, "FOX News Sunday" on Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET. Click here for more information on Brit Hume.