The Note: A Soul, a Spirit Capable of Compassion

". . .to be blunt about it, the immediate state and local response to the hurricane bordered on the criminally negligent. (More on that later this week.) Still, that doesn't excuse Washington's failure to move decisively into New Orleans once it became clear that Baton Rouge had dropped the ball," writes the New York Post editorial board. LINK

USA Today's ed board criticizes FEMA and/but is semi-tentative in its conclusions. LINK

The Washington Post's Spencer S. Hsu and Susan B. Glasser report that former FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh offered a "qualified defense" of Michael Brown. "Allbaugh called the government's overall performance 'unacceptable' but added: 'Blaming one agency, you cannot do that.' Still, he acknowledged that FEMA had lost independence and clout with the White House. 'I had a unique relationship with the president, having been his chief of staff,' Allbaugh said. 'If you don't have that kind of relationship, it just makes things tougher.'" LINK

Susan Milligan writes on the "apparent" political strain between President Bush and Louisianan Gov. Blanco. LINK

The AP's Loven reports on Gov. Blanco's attempt to tamp down talk of a rift between her and President Bush. LINK

Michael Cooper of the New York Times looks at President Bush's "stalwart defender" in the affected region, Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS). LINK

Bush agenda:

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold today the first of what is expected to be several hearings convened by multiple committees examining the issue from rising gas prices to refinery production, Roll Call's Ben Pershing and Mark Preston report. LINK

The politics of Iraq:

Republican Sen. Charles Grassley tells the Washington Post: "People don't see light at the end of the tunnel in Iraq…. If the situation a year from now is the same, it's going to be the number one issue in the next election, and consequently for incumbent Republicans, a problem." LINK

Roll Call's Morton Kondracke thinks Bush has made an important shift as he tries to bolster public support for the Iraq war, moving from idealism to a hard national security argument, but Kondracke thinks Bush may have to introduce more troops into Iraq in order to have any hope of defeating the insurgency.

2008: Republicans:

Roll Call's David Drucker Notes that the Club for Growth is running ads in the Granite State that target McCain for opposing a permanent repeal of the estate tax, although we wonder if they read yesterday's Bob Novak column. LINK

Gov. Mitt Romney's support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman is mentioned in a Washington Times story about same-sex marriage developments in California and Massachusetts. LINK

Both Boston Herald and the Globe report that Gov. Romney is organizing Bay State volunteers to assist displaced hurricane victims that are now in Massachusetts. LINK and LINK

Despite charges of hypocrisy from some Democrats, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has "generally" been "praised for his performance in the first week of the disaster," Bloomberg News reports. LINK

2008: Democrats:

The Quad City Times reports that after calling off his New Hampshire trip to concentrate on Iowa's participation in the Katrina relief undertaking, Gov. Tom Vilsack phoned in -- literally -- his Granite State appearance and delivered some tough words for FEMA Director Brown. Note, too, Martha Fuller Clark's "rave review." LINK

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