The Competence Question

A lot of viewers of The White House Booth had questions relating to the Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina. CBS News White House correspondent Bill Plante answers some of them.

Do you think the President's behavior may be somehow influenced by the attitude of his mother?

Barbara Bush, the other day in Houston, had this to say about the evacuees:

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas.
Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

(In the midst of this statement she could be heard chuckling!)

How does this family attitude carry over to the president of the United States of America?
Jerry Cunningham, Elgin, Texas.

The comment made by the President's mother, Barbara Bush, came up at a White House briefing — and Press Secretary Scott McClellan tried to skate by it by saying, "I think she was making a personal observation on the comments of some of the people she was running into. I'm not sure that's exactly what she said, but what we're focused on is helping those in need. Observation based on people that were talking to her that were in need of a lot of assistance." To be fair to McClellan, responding to that observation is a no-win situation. Was Mrs. Bush's offhand remark a "let them eat cake" moment? Hard to say. Does it carry over to the President? Nothing we've heard so far would suggest that it does.

Is somebody finally going to ask the administration about the level of competence in the White House? From the disaster in managing the aftermath of the war in Iraq to now the aftermath of the hurricane. When is someone going to take responsibility?
Todd Kramer, Murrieta California

The "competence" question has come up repeatedly in the days since Hurricane Katrina's devastation. It's been a little testy in the White House briefing room this past week. Reporters keep asking who's to blame for the slow response of the federal government in the disastrous wake of Hurricane Katrina. This administration, like any other, quickly developed a "line of the day" to respond to such questions. If you've been listening you've already heard it — "we're not here to play the blame game. There'll be plenty of time for that later — the important thing now is to move ahead." By now, the White House and Congress have both promised investigations into what went so wrong — but that isn't likely to stop the questions.