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Bush, Blanco, and Blame:
A number of commenters to my earlier post "Where's George?" raised very good points in response to what was an admittedly inarticulate post. I thought I would respond with two additional (and hopefully clearer) thoughts.

  First, I have absolutely no interest in assigning blame. My sense is that the crisis is sufficiently great that we need to be forward thinking right now. Assigning blame looks back; it's something you do when the emergency is over, and you have time to reconstruct what happened and see how you could do better next time. I don't think we're there yet. So for example, while I strongly agree with the many commenters that this should have been a state and local issue, the fact remains that the state and local governments seem to have been overwhelmed by the crisis and are not providing any kind of effective leadership. The key question is what to do next.

  Second, a few words about symbolism. A number of commenters argued that whether Bush goes down to Louisiana or stays in DC is merely symbolic, and thus won't actually help anything. I disagree. Symbols matter in times of crisis. Symbols frame mindsets, and mindsets influence conduct. Part of what is so astonishing about the current situation in Louisiana is the sense that no one seems to be in control, or is even willing to take direct responsibility. Right now the home page of CNN is blasting the headline: "WHERE'S THE HELP? STRANDED, SICK, DYING STILL WAITING." I don't know how many days or weeks of such headlines there needs to be before it begins to shake the confidence of the American people in ways that have pretty profound long term implications. But I think someone need to fill the vacuum, even if mostly only symbolically, and I think the only person who can do so right now is the President.

  That's my sense of things, at least. I may be wrong; this is far out of my area of expertise, obviously, and I'm just riffing like everyone else. Still, it seems like a very important question so I wanted to address it. Additional comments very welcome.

  UPDATE: As of 1:23pm, CNN.com is now posting what I hope is an important development:
  A convoy of military vehicles plowed through the flooded streets of New Orleans on Friday bringing food, water and medicine to the thousands of people trapped at a downtown convention center
Stay tuned....
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