The Joys of Multi-Tasking

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The devastation from Hurricane Katrina is pretty clearly the most important thing affecting the country right now. But it’s not the only thing affecting the country right now, and it seems odd that the Bush administration is getting ready to focus solely on the recovery—or rather, getting lots of photo-ops in to make it look like they’re doing something about the recovery. Whatever. Neverthless, are they dropping everything else? See this bit of news from Knight-Ridder:

[The hurricane] could crimp Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s ability to press on with the president’s highly ambitious foreign policy agenda, even as the administration grapples with such complex issues as the war in Iraq and Iran’s nuclear program, according to diplomats and analysts….

Bush had planned to host Chinese President Hu Jintao in Washington this week, but the White House asked that the meeting be rescheduled to take place during Bush’s trip to the United Nations, so he could concentrate on hurricane relief.

Why are they putting this off? The Secretary of State isn’t needed for hurricane relief. Nor, for that matter, is the president’s “supervision” required day in and day out. And repairing America’s image abroad, along with everyday foreign policy matters—especially since, say, Iraq doesn’t look like it’s getting any better—seems like a pretty crucial task at this point. But apparently not. Even the Vice-President is flying down to Louisiana. All hands on deck and say ‘cheese,’ that sort of thing. I’m beginning to think that Sam Rosenfeld might be onto something here when he says that the White House is treating this as an all-important opportunity to boost its image: “That’s the Bush approach in a nutshell — make messes, then take credit for boldly tackling those messes.” Perhaps Bush critics will rue the day they started screaming at the president to get down there and “do something” long after the fact. Hopefully not.

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