Friday, February 10, 2006

From the DHS web site

"The President proposes to create a new Department of Homeland Security, the most significant transformation of the U.S. government in over half-century by largely transforming and realigning the current confusing patchwork of government activities into a single department whose primary mission is to protect our homeland. The creation of a Department of Homeland Security is one more key step in the President’s national strategy for homeland security."

-From the Department of Homeland Security June 2002 - George W. Bush

That's hardly taken out of context;DHS' timeline of its early history gives the impression that it was an administration initiative:

Sep 20 President addresses Congress, announces creation of the Office of Homeland Security and appointment of Governor Tom Ridge as Director

Earlier tonight on MSNBC's Countdown, I heard Richard Wolffe of Newsweek say that the White House was opposed to the creation of the department, it was foisted on them by congress (will update to include quote when transcript becomes available Mon.). I'm not a regular reader of Newsweek, I have no idea what bias, if any, Wolffe tends to show. However, he is Newsweek's chief White House correspondent; it's a safe bet that he hears the desired administration spin. Obviously, that won't be the official White House line, just the line put out by conservative pundits and unnamed officials. I'll be shocked, however, if we don't start hearing it by Sunday's talk shows, certainly by Monday.

It's been obvious from the start of the Katrina investigation that there were three main places where blame could be assigned: state and local officials, federal officials, or unforeseen problems caused merging FEMA into DHS. Now that the GOP is going to be forced into blaming the hasty governmental reorganization, it will be interesting to see the spin on the creation of DHS. Remember, during the last election the Democrats claimed that it was their idea and the White House only went along in response to public opinion. The White house replied that that was nonsense because the President doesn't govern according to the polls and that several Democrats opposed the final bill.

On balance I found the Republican version more credible; to think otherwise you'd have to believe that Bush governs according to the polls. And we all know that Bush doesn't govern according to the polls. Just ask the editorial page writers of The Wall Street Journal:

In contrast, the Bush media model has been to ignore the polls, skip the spin and govern for results.

Or ask Scott McClellan:

Let me first correct you in terms of saying that we don't ever look at polls. We don't govern based on polls. The President does not govern based on polls. The President governs based on a clear set of principles and a clear set of beliefs.

Better yet, ask the President himself:

You know, if a President tries to govern based upon polls, you're kind of like a dog chasing your tail. I don't think you can make good, sound decisions based upon polls. And I don't think the American people want a President who relies upon polls and focus groups to make decisions for the American people.

Finally, only a conspiracy theorist or rabid Bush hater would believe that an official goverment web site would distort history to make the President look good, right?

All sarcasm aside, it's a safe bet that most of the official blame for the Katrina problems will fall on unforeseen (unforeseeable?) organizational problems caused by creation of DHS. It will be interesting to see four things:

1) How far the administration will go to change its version of the creation of DHS from it having been an administration initiative to it having been a bipartisan congressional initiative.

2) Whether the media will question the inconsistencies in this new version of events, including the fact that it would mean that DHS has been putting out pro-administration spin.

3) Whether the Democrats will be smart enough and aggressive enough to point out the above, especially if the media doesn't.

4) Whather DHS changes its official web site and publications.

We'll start seeing the answers to the first three Sunday morning. Keep your eyes on the DHS web site.

"In contrast, the Bush media model has been to ignore the polls, skip the spin and govern for results."-WSJ Eds.

Results. Results.

I don't drink, but I'm thinking about starting.
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