The efforts to keep blame for the post-Katrina screw-ups away from the president and on to local officials are going to result in some serious problems for conservatives.
The Schiavo problem
If the Administration's defenders are going to continue this game of shifting blame to Louisiana and New Orleans officials, then they better be prepared to address this argument, which I'm surprised I haven't seen. (I set it off in quotes because I wouldn't personally make this argument, though I recognize its appeal.
In March of this year, the federal government took extraordinary actions, overruling 10 years of decisions by a state court, change the jurisdiction of a private domestic matter to the federal courts. They justified this by saying that the woman's life was at stake, so the federal government must get involved.
Now, this same administration is saying that thousands of people living without necessities and in chaos is a local problem, and not something for which the federal government should be held accountable for.
Why must the federal government get involved in the Schiavo case, while abdicating resposibility for those stranded in New Orleans? Does it have something to do with the color of the victims' skin? Or maybe the Administration prefers mindless people who won't cause any trouble over poor people who demonstrate the failures of its policies.
As I said, I don't buy that argument. But the federal involvement in the Schiavo case (which I agreed with) positions the federal government poorly to say that it would have really liked to have taken over and led the rescue effort, but federalism prevented it from doing so.
There could also be a parallel argument using Bush vs. Gore.
This defense also makes it impossible for anyone to credibly argue for federalism again. After all, if taking five days to get bottled water into a city is the result of federalism, then what's so freaking great about federalism? If state and local officials are corrupt and incompetent, then why should they be trusted to settle important issues?
A new term
Building on my success with "Ratzenfreude," I propose that those who attempt to shift blame off the Administration to state and local officials be referred to as "foul weather federalists."