You know, I accept that the Dems will get on TV and spout nonsense to appeal to the base. And I even accept that a minority of them [Kennedy, Shumer] will say it long enough that they start to believe it… But at some point as a citizen, I have to believe these people really do try to do their best…. I guess I was wrong.
They can’t even figure out the obvious when it is handed to them on a silver platter.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 – Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary who has been the Bush administration’s point man in fielding criticism of the hurricane relief effort, came under fire Wednesday from some Congressional Democrats for private remarks about the conditions faced by storm survivors that struck the lawmakers as insensitive.
Thousands of people waited Friday for buses to take them away from the Superdome. Conditions at the stadium became a point of contention between Democrats and federal officials.
The new criticism was set off by a private and sometimes contentious briefing that Mr. Chertoff and other senior administration officials gave to House members on Tuesday night on the status of relief efforts.
Exactly what was said at the closed-door briefing remained in some dispute Wednesday.
Administration officials and Democrats at the briefing agreed that Mr. Chertoff and other speakers emphasized that news images showing horrendous conditions for evacuees in shelters did not reflect the totality of the federal government’s response.
But administration officials said several remarks that House members attributed to Mr. Chertoff were in fact made by other officials.
For instance, one administration official who was at the briefing said it was Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau at the Pentagon, not Mr. Chertoff, who told House members that television images of sparse relief efforts for evacuees sheltered at the Superdome offered “a small soda-straw view of what was going on.”
Still, much of the Democrats’ criticism was directed at Mr. Chertoff himself.
Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, said the message he took from Mr. Chertoff’s comments regarding the relief effort was that “what you see is not really what is.”
“People just looked at him,” Mr. Thompson said. “He was the first speaker, and it sort of went downhill after that. People felt we are not going to get the truth here.”
A few Democrats were so upset by the tone of Mr. Chertoff’s remarks that they walked out of the briefing, said Representative Elijah Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, who said he stayed for all of the remarks but became increasingly frustrated by what he heard.
“The picture was being painted that things were not as bad as they appeared to be” in news reports, Mr. Cummings said in an interview. “It reached the point where the answers didn’t add up.”
Of course the answers don’t add up if don’t have the mental brainpower to figure out that 1 building does not represent a whole region. The greater New Orleans area is about 12 miles high by 30 miles wide. CNN et al spent 3 days with their cameras focused on one building. Of course it represented a “soda straw view.”
Thru this event, I’ve become “email friends” with one of the CNN producers. I’ve probably spent an hour on he phone with her. I BEGGED her for news about other parts of the city. Metairie has a half a million people in it and is about the same geographic size of New Orleans*… I was trapped in a hotel room for 4 DAYS and only heard the word Metairie ONCE on the national news and that was in passing. I had no idea if we were underwater or not. The (damn) national media just would not talk about anything but the Superdome.
Those of us who live there have gone nuts over this.
I can find a away to be annoyed at almost every government agency involved in this… I’m hardly cutting FEMA any slack. But there is a whole big city out there that the media did not cover. If the briefing was about the totality of the effort then at least listen to the man and don’t walk out.
Apparently people who managed to get themselves elected to a federal office can’t understand that cable news coverage might not show the whole picture.
Even in my most cynical moments I gave the dems more credit than this. Guess I was wrong.
* And for you locals, I lumped Kenner and Metairie into this which is obviously not quite accurate but close enough from the national/international point of view. But I still don’t think I’ve heard the word Kenner on the national media at all. To the big media, Jefferson Parish didn’t exist until they started lining people up on Vets highway.