Blame Game Subsumes Blogosphere

Have you ever played The Blame Game? It’s fun. You should try it. The White House apparently doesn’t want to play. Scott McClellan made that clear at a press conference yesterday, where he mentioned The Game eight times (“We can’t engage in this blame-gaming going on …”). But bloggers of every political stripe can’t get enough. It’s the newest, hottest, hippest game around.

Rick Moran at Right Wing Nut House has a very comprehensive (and, despite the name, more scientific than partisan) timeline of the response to Katrina. His conclusion:

If I may be allowed a personal opinion?

This has been a clusterfuck from the get-go on all levels and with a few unbelievably heroic exceptions — mostly the [Louisiana] Fish and Wildlife employees who were out in boats rescuing people almost before the storm passed and our selfless military who performed with their usual spectacular competence and courage. I am convinced that any commission or Congressional investigation — if even slightly impartial — will find enough stupidity, incompetence, panic, blame shifting, lying, and bureaucratic ass covering to sate the appetite for name calling and blame assigning of even the most partisan among us.

This was a failure of leadership and competence. But it was also a failure of will. And for that, you need look no farther than the mirror in your bathroom, dearest readers. We elected this crew. We elected the Congresses over the past 25 years — Democratic and Republican — that failed to do the things necessary to make New Orleans safer.

Andrew Sullivan links to Moran’s timeline, but is skeptical of Right Wing Nut House’s silence on the president’s role in the fiasco. Though the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana might have fallen on their faces, Sullivan thinks the president should bear extra-special blame, because “the fundamental reason George W. Bush was re-elected was his commitment to national security and a government able to deal with post-9/11 real crises and calamities. That was his promise. And when the first real post-9/11 test came, he flunked it.”

Even the rightosphere likes The Blame Game. Michelle Malkin, for example, does not mince words when she describes her feelings about Michael Brown, FEMA head: “If someone is a worthless sack of bones, I’ll say so. And I don’t care if he has ‘Bush appointee’ stamped on his forehead or a GOP elephant tattooed to his backside. Brown’s clueless public comments after landfall are reason enough to give him the boot … and he should have never been there in the first place.”

Nick at Musement Park, however, deplores The Blame Game: “When thousands of people die unnecessarily, there can be no such thing as a ‘blame game.’ To refer to a responsible review of actions that lead to thousands of deaths as a game dishonors the dead. An investigation is required. End of story. Bush, famously a ‘CEO-style president’ and delegator, should understand the need for accountability better than anyone.”

Nick will never have a game named after him; not unless he can come up for a rhyme with “accountability” or “investigation.”

We like Jonathen Lersen’s take over at Petty Larsony. He comes up with elaborate set of rules for The Game. Like rule #5: “Players may assign Blame to any Player to their left, regardless of whether that Player is holding any Blame at the time of play.” Or rule #8: “If a Player is unsure of where Blame actually is when their turn arrives, and if the Player does not ‘bluff,’ that Player loses their turn.”

The object of the game, as rule #9 tells us is, of course, that “the first Player to disperse all … Blame to the other players wins! That’s how you play The Blame Game. It’s that easy!”

And widely quoted, as always in the blogosphere, is Jon Stewart, who said last night:

“If you don’t like The Blame Game, it’s usually because you’re to blame.”

Gal Beckerman

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Gal Beckerman is a former staff writer at CJR.