While insisting that now is no time for playing the "blame game," the president's supporters are busy blaming state and local officials for the inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina. They've claimed that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco didn't declare a state of emergency. She did, on Aug. 26, when the president was still on vacation. And they've claimed that Blanco was slow to ask for federal help. In fact, Blanco wrote a letter to the president on Aug. 28 in which she said that an "effective response" to Katrina's destruction would be "beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments" and requested federal help to "save lives" and "protect property."
The president was on vacation then, too.
But FEMA Director Michael Brown wasn't, and he got right to work. More or less. Internal FEMA documents show that Brown waited five hours after Katrina struck land on Aug. 29 before he asked Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to send 1,000 department employees to the Gulf Coast. And even then, he suggested that Homeland Security employees should have a couple of days to get themselves in place.
Once in place, the Homeland Security employees would, among other things, "convey a positive image" of the government's response to the hurricane, Brown told Chertoff.