Whitehouse.gov Gets Makeover II

Yesterday, I complained that President Obama is using the White House website for partisan political purposes. Politico’s Andy Barr digs deeper and says it’s worse than it appears at first blush:

The new White House website unveiled by President Barack Obama’s team Tuesday includes a shot at former President Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

Under the “agenda” portion of the site regarding Katrina, it reads: “President Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur.”

“President Obama swiftly responded to Hurricane Katrina,” the statement on the site continues. “Citing the Bush Administration’s ‘unconscionable ineptitude’ in responding to Hurricane Katrina, then-Senator Obama introduced legislation requiring disaster planners to take into account the specific needs of low-income hurricane victims.”

Again,  this is a function of Team Obama having literally moved their 2008 campaign website to whitehouse.gov.  This is unseemly.  He’s president now, not a political candidate or even president-elect.  This sort of nonsense does not belong on the people’s website.

via memeorandum

FILED UNDER: General, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. When your intellectual lynchpin is “Blame Bush”, it takes a while before you can start to look at the world in anyway other than reflexive hatred.




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  2. Bithead says:

    Correct, John, but this goes even deeper than that. I would point out the complaints that Bill Clinton was in perpetual campaign mode for eight years.

    Get the picture?




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  3. Anderson says:

    President Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

    Did Bush make such promises? Did he break them?

    He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur.

    Were there catastrophic failures of that sort? (Note that the sentence does not attribute them to Bush.)

    … Is it really irrelevant whether the statements are true? Or is this another instance of reality’s well-known liberal bias?




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  4. Alex Knapp says:

    I don’t see what’s unseemly about it. Bush *did* fail, monumentally, and parts of the Gulf Coast are still in shambles. You might disagree as to whether it’s truly a federal responsibility, but Bush claimed it was and failed miserably. What’s wrong with his successor being honest about that fact?




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  5. Hoodlumman says:

    Agreed. As police chief of New Orleans, mayor of New Orleans, governor of Louisiana and president of the USA, it was all Bush’s fault.

    Had John Kerry been president, none of that would have happened.




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  6. PD Shaw says:

    I visited New Orleans last year and parts of it were better than before Katrina. Call them “High Ground.” The parts that remain decimated, like the Lower Ninth Ward, look like a graveyard for buildings. Call that area the “Why Does Brad Pitt Hate Poor People Area?”

    The people who want to rebuild the low-lying land that adjoins receding wetlands and an encroaching ocean strike me as clueless or insane.




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  7. Michael says:

    I don’t see what’s unseemly about it. Bush *did* fail, monumentally, and parts of the Gulf Coast are still in shambles.

    It’s unseemly because it reads like a campaign ad. Obama should no longer be trying to point out that Bush did it wrong, because it doesn’t matter anymore who did it wrong. If the same segment had made mention to “the federal government” instead of “President Bush”, it would have been just as informative and not at all unseemly.




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  8. Leisureguy says:

    Politics in the White House??? How shameful! We never had that in the Bush White House…




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  9. James Joyner says:

    It’s unseemly because it reads like a campaign ad. Obama should no longer be trying to point out that Bush did it wrong, because it doesn’t matter anymore who did it wrong. If the same segment had made mention to “the federal government” instead of “President Bush”, it would have been just as informative and not at all unseemly.

    That’s right. I’d actually prefer if Obama would just say what he’s going to do going forward, leaving the rest implied.

    Politics in the White House??? How shameful! We never had that in the Bush White House…

    While I wasn’t on the site every day and may have missed something, for the most part whitehouse.gov was extremely professional. It looked like a government site, helpfully listing the various speeches of the president and the like. Those speeches were themselves often political, of course, but the presentation was decidedly more understated and matter-of-fact.

    I don’t at all object to Obama touting his policy proposals. I just think there’s a way to do that that differs by venue.




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  10. Drew says:

    Blaming Presidents for the results of natural disasters, and in the case of New Orleans in light of the enormity of Katrina, decades of local governmental incompetence, a levee structure that was ill-designed, a shaky local economy etc etc is ludicrous.

    Not to mention ghoulish.




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  11. Leisureguy says:

    Drew, Bush is not blamed for the disaster but for the response to the disaster from the Federal government. I had thought that was clear.




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  12. William d'Inger says:

    Every new administration makes in-coming freshmen level mistakes. I will give them a pass for a couple weeks while they get over the intoxication of making the big time.

    Since I live in the New Orleans area, and since my house flooded during Katrina, and since I’ve lived through the trauma of evacuation and turmoil of reconstruction, I feel I have some experience to share on the government’s “failure”. In my opinion, no human institution on Earth, government or otherwise, would have handled the disaster any better. It is strictly a matter of experience. Prior to that storm there was little or no experience for anything of that magnitude. I would expect it would take at least three or four Katrinas in one generation to build the logistics base and expertise to handle something like that.




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  13. Leisureguy says:

    It does turn out that if you put someone with actual disaster management experience, they do a better job than if the job is staffed with a political hack. Just a thought.




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  14. Michael says:

    It is strictly a matter of experience. Prior to that storm there was little or no experience for anything of that magnitude.

    Andrew in ’92 was about the same magnitude as Katrina, and it was handled better. Granted there wasn’t the flooding problem, but still the federal response was all around much better.

    Also, Florida was hit by 4 hurricanes just the year before, and people were predicting broken levees and flooding almost as soon as Katrina started tracking towards NO.

    I don’t buy the experience excuse.




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  15. Hoodlumman says:

    Florida? You guys are comparing apples and oranges. The state and local governments of Florida can not and should not be compared to Louisiana’s abominable jurisdictions.

    And as far as search-and-rescue went, the immediate post-Katrina operations were some of the largest, quickest and most successful ever.




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  16. William d'Inger says:

    Thankfully, Hurricane Andrew just clipped the southern tip of Florida. The area in Florida that got destroyed was but a tiny, tiny fraction of the area impacted by Katrina. In a sense, you’re comparing an apple to an orange.

    Of course it could have been handled better, but I contend that no administration would have handled the situation significantly better. I consider that dumping on the Bush administration for the way it handled Katrina is merely an exercise in partisan politics.




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  17. Michael says:

    Thankfully, Hurricane Andrew just clipped the southern tip of Florida.

    You mean Miami?




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  18. William d'Inger says:

    You mean Miami?

    I mean it would have been horribly worse (and more comparable to Katrina) had Andrew run north from Miami to, say, Savannah, GA.

    But the issue here is whitehouse.gov, and I am applying the same logic to that issue as to the hurricane. Government is not perfect, and those who expect better performance from government are largely delusional.




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  19. davod says:

    It is hardly worth the effort to respond to he Katrina liable. Check the record. Homeland Security responded to Katrina in the same or better timeframe than for other disasters.

    The initial delay in enacting Federal involvement was the responsibiliy of the State Government. Now you can bitch and moan all you want about this but unless you want to change the relationship between the Federal and State governments then delays of this type will always be a possibility.




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