Although it's certainly too early to begin finger-pointing, since it's already started I may as well join in. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) protests so much that her complaints readily identify the group that deserves most of the blame.

Underscoring the strain of the disaster, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., lashed out at federal officials who she said have denigrated local efforts to deal with the catastrophe.

"If one person criticizes them or says one more thing, including the president of the United States, he will hear from me," she said on the ABC's "This Week." "One more word about it after this show airs and I might likely have to punch him. Literally."

Maybe the Senator didn't see this picture linked to by Drudge of hundreds of school buses under water that Mayor Ray Nagin didn't deploy to assist residents with the mandatory evacuation. Sure, some residents were too poor or sick to evacuate, but it seems like 25% of the city stayed. Local officials didn't do their jobs to get them out, and the fact that these buses weren't used shows that the locals didn't take the impending disaster seriously.

To some extent it's understandable that local civilian authority broke down so quickly, but no one anticipated it. I don't blame police officers for abandoning their jobs in efforts to care for their own families. Even if my family were safe, I'm not sure I'd want to risk my life wading into a toxic swamp to try to rescue people who were more likely to shoot at me than thank me. Local police aren't equipped or trained for this sort of operation, but the fact that they had to perform it indicates that their superiors didn't do their jobs very well.

What about this WaPo article that mentions how long Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) waited to accept federal aid.

Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.

"The federal government stands ready to work with state and local officials to secure New Orleans and the state of Louisiana," White House spokesman Dan Bartlett said. "The president will not let any form of bureaucracy get in the way of protecting the citizens of Louisiana."

Blanco made two moves Saturday that protected her independence from the federal government: She created a philanthropic fund for the state's victims and hired James Lee Witt, Federal Emergency Management Agency director in the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort.

You can't protect your bureaucratic fiefdom and then turn around and complain that the resulting failures are someone else's fault.

Updated and corrected!



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