- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 4, 2005

Temper flares

The week portends to be tough and complicated for the entire nation. Perhaps one Louisiana Democrat, however, took the current stressful circumstances to a new level of intensity.

On ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, Sen. Mary L. Landrieu threatened President Bush with some fisticuffs on ABC’s “This Week.”

“If one person criticizes our sheriffs, or says one more thing, including the president of the United States, he will hear from me. One more word about it after this show airs and I — I might likely have to punch him — literally,” Mrs. Landrieu said.

“The president came here yesterday for a photo op. He got his photo op, but we are never going to get this fixed if he does not send us help now,” she continued.

It is a felony to threaten the leader of the free world with violence. The White House has had no comment about Mrs. Landrieu’s remarks.

By the numbers

“Americans are broadly critical of government preparedness in the Hurricane Katrina disaster — but far fewer take George W. Bush personally to task for the problems, and public anger about the response is less widespread than some critics would suggest,” noted ABC News pollster Gary Langer yesterday.

According to an ABC/Washington Post poll of 501 adults taken Sept. 2, 44 percent said they blame Mr. Bush, but 55 percent said they did not.

The “most prevelant emotion” among the respondents was hope, the poll found, felt by 64 percent, and 55 percent were “shocked,” while 45 percent were “angry” about the official response to Katrina.

Hurricane Arianna

Bush-bashing, yes. But Bubba bashing too? Arianna Huffington was on the warpath yesterday, calling former President Clinton the “suck-up-in-chief” for defending White House claims that problems plaguing New Orleans were unforeseeable.

“It’s mighty hard to have a teachable moment when you have Bill Clinton, still the reigning symbol of the Democratic Party, failing to connect the dots between the Bush administration’s chronic abandonment of the poor and its recent abandonment of the poor in the Big Easy,” Miss Huffington wrote at her blog (www.huffingtonpost.com).

She suggested he stop being a “Bush lapdog” and accept his role as “Co-Disaster-Fund-Raiser-in-Chief,” later adding, “even devoted Clintonites are scratching their heads and wondering what has happened to the man once lauded as ‘the first black president.’ Is his need to be a part of this country’s wealth and power establishment so great that it blinds him to reality? Is his need to be fawned over so desperate that he has forgotten how to speak the truth?”

John Wayne dude’

One straight-talking guy won accolades from New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

When the cavalry finally arrived there to help Katrina survivors, a cigar-chomping three-star general led the way. That was Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, commander of the 1st Army based at Fort Gillem in Atlanta.

The Louisiana native is the pointman on the front line in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Gen. Honore is winning over even some of the government’s harshest critics, including Mr. Nagin, who had harshly criticized the Bush administration’s initial response to his city’s disaster.

“He came off the doggone chopper, and he started cussing, and people started moving,” Mr. Nagin said yesterday. “I give the president some credit on this. He sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done.”

Gen. Honore and thousands of National Guard troops rolled into town this weekend, intending to emphasize the humanitarian side of the mission, according to the Associated Press.

“Put those weapons down,” he hollered to troops and local police, telling everyone to point their guns down, reminding them they were “not in Iraq.”

Also running late

Uh-oh. Efforts by actor Sean Penn to aid New Orleans victims “foundered badly” yesterday when the rescue boat he was piloting — personal photographer along for the ride — sprang a leak on a flooded street during a rescue attempt yesterday, according to Agence France-Presse.

Meanwhile, while critics of Gulf Coast relief efforts have condemned the official hurricane response as late — some among them were even more tardy, though no one has yet to cite them.

A joint effort by MoveOn.org, actors Tim Robbins and John Cusack, rockers REM, Pearl Jam, the Beastie Boys and others now seeks new homes for Katrina victims, primarily through hurricanehousing.org, a new MoveOn-related Web site.

Things didn’t get under way, however, until Saturday. The site has a few others things going for it besides housing and humanitarian efforts, though. It also provides links to MoveOn, and progressive groups such as Democracy for America, the True Majority and Blue Latinos.

Frist at the ready

Sen. Bill Frist — lawmaker and physician — is still on the Gulf Coast treating hurricane victims.

The Tennesee Republican left Washington and arrived in New Orleans on Saturday night, declining offers from the press to join in fault-finding about logistical problems.

He instead got to work. Dr. Frist treated diabetics, dehydration cases and others in Mississippi and Alabama yesterday, eventually returning with supplies to New Orleans.

He’ll be back on Capitol Hill tomorrow when the Senate reconvenes, and for confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge John G. Roberts Jr.

Follow the money

The Media Research Center’s Brent Baker noted yesterday that National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg was “sounding like a parody of a liberal” during an appearance on WJLA-TV’s “Inside Washington.”

While exploring the idea that the deployment of the National Guard to Iraq impaired hurricane-rescue efforts, Miss Totenburg said, “For years, we have cut our taxes, cut our taxes and let the infrastructure throughout the country go, and this is just the first of a number of other crumbling things that are going to happen to us.”

But Mr. Baker observed, “Under the Bush administration, domestic spending has soared much faster than inflation, a trend illustrated by the huge transportation bill this year packed with spending on infrastructure projects. And if infrastructure spending has suffered in some way, massive new spending on such things as a prescription [drug] entitlement program are just as responsible.”

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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