This post by Marc Ambinder is an excellent take-down of the flailing administration. The money bit:
The public is sick of political posturing. These Congressional hearings that Democrats are holding — they certainly are useful exercises in ventilation, but really, the focus right now shouldn’t be on blame assigning, it should be on crisis mitigation. Congress needs to stop yapping and start figuring out what it can do to support the administration, which, whether you like it or not, is on the hook for this.
Obama ran for president because he wanted to make government work again. He’s had a tough time convincing people that it is possible for government to work benignly. A crashing economy will just make it tough to change opinions. But now he’s faced with an equally impossible task — one that he did indeed sign up for when he decided to run for president — what happens when you’re called upon to solve an unsolvable problem?
This links up a bit with the bubbling controversy over whether Joe Sestak was offered a job in exchange for not running against Sen. Arlen Specter. One furthers the knife in the “open, honest, transparent” theme that has been on life support since health care, and the other furthers the knife in the “neither big government nor small government but efficient government” theme that has been on life support since the stimulus. The administration will need to fight these two issues immediately, consistently, and relentlessly.
I am in the camp that believes Presidents can have little effect on actual results in situations like this—that is to say, little in the effect that the American people think they can have on these crises. There’s only so much the President can do.
That being said, there’s no doubt that the Bush administration were more in control of the Katrina situation than the Keystone cops running the show now.
If anything, all of this should confirm that the Obama administration is in over their heads when it comes to governing. If government can be efficient, if it can work to solve these problems, we’re certainly not seeing any of that from this White House.