Taking responsibility equates to taking “full responsibility”

Or so you’d think if you read this Reuters article (emphasis added):

The discovery of at least 44 bodies in an abandoned hospital in New Orleans raised new questions about the response to Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday as President George W. Bush took full responsibility for government failures in handling the disaster.

My hat would be off to Reuters if that was what he actually did but it’s not.  Here’s what he said (emphasis added):

“Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government,” Bush said at joint White House news conference with the president of Iraq.

“To the extent the federal government didn’t fully do its job right, I take responsibility,” Bush said.

In other words, he took responsibility for the feds part in the so-called slow response to Hurricane Katrina.  He did not take responsibility for gross (in more ways than one) state and local incompetency for those officials’ handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  As Rob at Say Anything points out, that is an important distinction to make.  But some in the media, in their haste to pin all the blame on Bush, have misreported this story to make it appear that Bush is saying "yes, it was all the feds fault.  We screwed up."  That’s not what’s happening here, but the Reuters spin makes you think so, anyway.

Jeff Goldstein sums up the thoughts of many (including myself) on the President’s admitting responsibility:

It’s sad that this country has come to this, demanding, by way of a relentless press, that a sitting President—in order to open the political steam valve and let the partisan hot air dissipate—is forced to deliver one of these generic and non-specific mea culpas.

That’s exactly what’s happened here.

Reminder: Don’t forget that the President will be addressing the nation tomorrow night from La. at 9PM ET.

(Linking up with the OTB Traffic Jam)

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