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Partisan Squabble or Dereliction of Duty?

" 'I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week.' And he said 'What didn't go right?' "

" 'Oblivious, in denial, dangerous,' she added."

(Spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday responded: "I think the President was just wanting to know what she -- what she was most concerned about.")

Dan Balz writes in The Washington Post: "Lending further evidence that Katrina is rapidly becoming a war between the parties, the political action committee of announced a public rally across from the White House this afternoon. It is to include evacuees demanding the president 'acknowledge that budget cuts and indifference by his administration led to the disaster in New Orleans and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.' "

Balz touches on the lack of public criticism from former president Clinton. "Clinton does not want to jeopardize what has become both a working relationship and a friendship with the elder Bush," Balz writes.

But, he adds: "Privately, Clinton has been incredulous over what he regards as the administration's failure to grasp quickly the perilous situation materializing in New Orleans, particularly for poor African Americans."

The Economist writes that "both Republicans and Democrats were appalled at Mr Bush's failure to grasp the scale of the catastrophe; shocked that his senior staff were absent, or on holiday, while thousands of Americans were stranded without food and water; and aghast at the bumbling response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is charged with coping when disasters strike."

Poll Watch

A new Zogby poll shows Bush's job approval rating taking a hit in the wake of Katrina, dropping to an all-time low in that survey of 41 percent.

Only 36 percent said Bush's handling of the hurricane was excellent or good; 60 percent said it was fair or poor.

Looking at the party breakdown , some 89 percent of Democrats gave Bush low ratings on the hurricane response, compared to 67 percent of independents and 29 percent of Republicans.

And a new CBS poll finds 38 percent approval for Bush's response, compared to 58 percent disapproval.

Writes CBS: "President Bush's image appears to have suffered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The public now has lower confidence in his response to crisis, and his leadership in general.

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