Give the president his due. His statement -- the full transcript of which we've published below -- is couched in an attempt to minimize the role of federal mismanagement in the Katrina disaster. And in the second paragraph of the response his speechwriters appear to be setting up a new line of attack -- that those who criticize the federal response are in fact criticizing the first responders on the scene. But many of us have been pointing out for more than four years President Bush's refusal to take responsibility for anything that has happened on his watch as president. So kudos for the first.
But responsibility means accountability, not just words but deeds. And that means no cover-up.
The president says he wants to know what went wrong. The public has a right to know, since their immediate safety from natural disasters and terrorist attacks is at stake. And that means an independent commission to investigate what went wrong and why.
Ethics, logic and an elementary grasp of human nature say that the person responsible for the failures can't be the person investigating them. Same goes for a commission controlled by that person's political supporters. Can anyone argue with that?
Which Democrat, building on what the president said today, will get in front of a microphone and say it?
No cover-ups, no cronyism.