Nobody thinks that reconstruction should already be under way. But what's striking to me is that there are no visible signs that the administration has even begun developing a plan. No reconstruction czar has been appointed; no commission has been named. There have been no public hearings. And as far as we can tell, nobody is in charge.As the fans of another, less intelligent, commentator would say, Ditto!
Last month The New York Times reported that Karl Rove had been placed in charge of post-Katrina reconstruction. But last week Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, denied that Mr. Rove - who has become a lot less visible lately, as speculation swirls about possible indictments in the Plame case - was ever running reconstruction. So who is in charge? "The president," said Mr. McClellan.
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Right now, the public strongly supports a major reconstruction effort, so that's what Mr. Bush had to promise. But as the TV cameras focus on other places and other issues, will the administration pay a heavy political price for a reconstruction that starts slowly and gradually peters out? The New York experience suggests that it won't.
Of course, I may be overanalyzing. Maybe the administration isn't deliberately dragging its feet on reconstruction. Maybe its lack of movement, like its immobility in the days after Katrina struck, reflects nothing more than out-of-touch leadership and a lack of competent people.