Fables of the Reconstruction


You've probably seen this New York Times tidbit from yesterday:

Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, was in charge of the reconstruction effort

But new to me was this Washington Post item from last week:

Karen Hughes has another view. The Bush confidante, now undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, held a meeting with her staff in Foggy Bottom yesterday and was asked about the international ramifications of the response to the New Orleans flooding. The problem, Hughes replied, was not a failed relief effort but a foreign press that did not appreciate the federal government's good work.

"There are a lot of things being said about us around the world that aren't true," said the woman in charge of polishing the American image abroad. "We've marshaled the resources of our federal government" to help fellow Americans, she said, and if people think otherwise, "we need to aggressively challenge that idea around the world."

The New Republic's Joseph Braude makes the case for why Hughes' spin is "irrelevant to the part of the world where her work matters most," and amounts to "an obsession with safeguarding President Bush's image." Seems to me that naming a lifelong political strategist to head up crucial reconstruction efforts is tantamount to announcing that the "obsession with safeguarding President Bush's image" is about the only big idea this administration has left.