The Senate Hearts Blanco

When ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown testified before the House select committee last Tuesday, he was questioned directly and sharply (and appropriately as far as I’m concerned) by committee members about the lame job he did in the days following Hurricane Katrina. So, one would expect that an appearance by Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco would be met with the equal criticism.

Think again.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, blamed by the former leader of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin for many of the city’s post-hurricane problems, was given no questions about her response to Hurricane Katrina when she appeared before a Senate committee to plead for more federal money.

She asked not to be questioned about it and the senators agreed.

Why? If we’re going to get down to brass tax on this and attempt to correct ourselves for future events, we should be calling a spade a spade. Reveal the deficiencies and work to provide solutions.

What? Were these guys afraid of offending or embarrassing the Governor?

Republican senators at yesterday’s hearing by the Finance Committee — Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, Trent Lott of Mississippi, Olympia J. Snow of Maine, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Craig Thomas of Wyoming, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Bill Frist of Tennessee, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, Jim Bunning of Kentucky and Michael D. Crapo of Idaho — agreed to Mrs. Blanco’s request not to discuss her performance after the hurricane.

Instead, she devoted her appearance to pleading for help to rebuild businesses and creating jobs in Louisiana. She said Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had wiped out a third of the state’s economy.

Is there some new rule in effect now? How is it that an individual who is called to testify before a Senate committee is afforded the privilege of being able to pick the questions they’re asked?

Sheesh! Why are these guys being so wimpy when it comes to Blanco, whom in many ways exhibited as much ineptness as Michael Brown? He leaves his post bloodied and she walks out of the room with billions of dollars.

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