Matthew Yglesias shows us why Democrats lose elections:
The White House strategy on Katrina seems to be to try and shift blame away from itself and onto the governor of Louisiana who is, needless to say, a Democrat. Shameful, yes, but I would urge liberals not to take the bait people. People are angry. Obviously, something has gone badly wrong. He said, she said finger-pointing will just leave everyone where they are -- conservatives blaming Blanco, liberals blaming Bush.
Substantively speaking, there seems to be blame to go around here. Certainly, the government of Louisiana is not without fault here. Why not let them all hang? In cynical terms, the Louisiana Democratic Party would be a small price to pay in exchange for the national Republican Party.[...] Accountability for all can only be a good thing, both in terms of future disaster preparedness and broader political terms.
Of course, he's right about the general point, which is that accountability is a good thing, regardless of party affiliation. But Yglesias's "let them all hang" strategy, apart from completely misrepresenting the reality of the situation, is bad politics.
First of all, let's stipulate that the state and local government are probably not completely blameless. I have a hard time believing that in such a complex disaster there isn't something that they could have done better.
But to pretend, or even vaguely insinuate that whatever the state government did even approaches the catastrophic negligence and incompetence of the federal response is ridiculous, and easily proven false. For them to even be put in the same thought misrepresents the reality of the situation.
But worse, it plays right into a republican talking point, and this brings me to my second point: that using "let them all hang" rhetoric is a losing strategy. Because we've seen that our republican administration, apart from being incompetent and negligent, is unscrupulous and dishonest. We see Operation Blame the Locals in full effect, and you've probably all seen the lie that a Bush administration offical told various news outlets (that Gov. Blanco didn't declare a state of emergency until Sept. 4, when in reality she declared it on Aug. 26).
(For what it's worth, I feel certain that the "senior administration official" knew they were lying about the emergency declaration but just wanted to get the talking point into the media, even it would be corrected later.)
Long story short, these republicans are just straight up liars. They will say the most demonstrably false thing in order to score political points, and they will use anything that they can muster to win the PR battle, including well-intentioned Dems. The second that any Democrat starts pretending that there's any equivalence between the federal response and the state and local response, Ken Mehlman will be on TV saying, "even the liberal so-and-so admits that..."
Even the most well-intentioned of "accoutability for all" rhetoric has a problem because the other side doesn't see any need for integrity, and we've seen all too often that the American public is willing to buy whatever lies pop of republican mouths.
Fortunately, in this case, good politics also happens to accord with the truth. This is overwhelmingly the fuck-up of a republican administration, and let's not pretend like it's anything else.