PLEASE LEAVE A MESSAGE AT THE TONE….Time magazine does a decent job of explaining what went wrong at all levels in the aftermath of Katrina, but the paragraph that really struck me was this one, which describes Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco’s attempts to get help from Washington:

The day the storm hit, she asked President Bush for “everything you’ve got.” But almost nothing arrived, and she couldn’t wait any longer. So she called the White House and demanded to speak to the President. George Bush could not be located, two Louisiana officials told Time, so she asked for chief of staff Andrew Card, who was also unavailable. Finally, after being passed to another office or two, she left a message with DHS adviser Frances Frago Townsend. She waited hours but had to make another call herself before she finally got Bush on the line. “Help is on the way,” he told her.

She had to leave a message?

In a companion article, Mike Allen describes the “bubble” Bush lives in and how it prevents him from hearing bad news ? this time to disastrous effect. But he also notes that although the plan to actually deal with Katrina was poor, the plan to save the president’s political bacon is just revving up:

By late last week, Administration aides were describing a three-part comeback plan. The first: Spend freely, and worry about the tab and the consequences later….The second tactic could be summed up as, Don’t look back. The White House has sent delegates to meetings in Washington of outside Republican groups who have plans to blame the Democrats and state and local officials.

….The third move:…Advisers are proceeding with plans to gin up base-conservative voters…focused around tax reform….no plans to delay tax cuts…veto anticipated congressional approval of increased federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research.

Now that Karl Rove is back from his kidney stone surgery, I’m sure his plans to “gin up base-conservative voters” will move into high gear indeed.

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