It makes me sad to see that the same arguments in defense of Bush we now know to be patently, verifiably, completely false are still being trotted out by conservatives in an attempt to deflect post-Katarina blame back to the local level. Listening to the radio, reading weblogs, and watching television over the past two days, I’ve counted dozens and dozens of people who still continue to claim things like that Louisiana Governor Blanco never declared a state of emergency, that Bush pleaded with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Blanco to evacuate the area and that both local leaders refused, that Bush didn’t intervene earlier (read: stayed on vacation) because he knew that “liberals” would rip him for taking control from a female governor, and that everyone would have been saved had Mayor Nagin just gotten the people onto all those buses. It’s another example of people adapting evidence to beliefs, rather than the other way around, and it makes me wonder exactly what a conservative leader would have to get caught doing to get these people to acknowledge the existence of a problem.

That being said, I’m also willing to acknowledge that there are a number of conservatives who have proven to be more willing to take a more rational view of the situation. For me, the primary evidence of this is the continued freefall of Bush’s approval rating; there are also random experiences I’ve had over the past week that provide further evidence. (For example, the hosts of the morning radio show I listen to have sadly talked about their support of Bush in the past, but this week, they called him an imbecile, questioned his judgement, talked about his inability to acknowledge his problems, and generally gave him the respect they’d give a New York Yankee.) It feels like the post-Monica era in the Democratic party, although it feels like it’s taken a lot longer and required a lot more work to get here.

In the end, Bush is a lame duck President, and doesn’t need public support for reelection. The rest of his party isn’t so lucky, though, and I’m hoping that its continued (near-unanimous) defense of him and his decisions will help Americans recognize the depth of the problems that we now face as a result of the past five years, and help start to right the wrongs in the 2006 interim elections.