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Bush To Resign?

  The president will address the nation tonight from the Gulf Coast. He will probably repeat what he said the other day: That he takes "full responsibility" for what went wrong with the federal response to Katrina. The obvious follow-up question: Does this mean he will resign?

   If not, it begs the question of what exactly it means when a politician takes full responsibility for a debacle of monumental proportions. Perhaps it means, "I'm sorry," or, "I really made a hash out of this one," or "When I do something boneheaded it tends to be a real humdinger." But presidents don't talk like that. They take full responsibility the way a duck absorbs water. Even this president's predecessor, normally gifted with an aw-shucks gee-whiz Lil' Abner diction, got his tongue twisted in knots when it came time to admit he'd done something wrong. Bush tonight should say something like, "It depends on what the definition of hurricane is." The classic phrase is, of course, that wonderful Reaganism from Iran-Contra: "Mistakes were made." Who says the passive voice is always bad?

    What would be refreshing is if the president could be honest and say, directly to the American people, "I blame my staff. They gotta tell me what's going on. I'm running a war, I got economy stuff goin' on, I'm packing the Supreme Court, you name it, plus I'm on vacation half the time, so I just can't be expected to know about every breeze blowing off the Gulf."

    One staffer, the hapless Brownie, has already been fed to the sharks. Now there's buzz about Michael Chertoff and his questionable job security. Today in The Post there's a chilling tale by Wil Haygood and Ann Scott Tyson about the horrors of the Convention Center in New Orleans, and four days into the ordeal Chertoff appeared surprised to hear that people were suffering in there. He needs to do some serious staff-blaming. Point fingers, and say: The Buck Stops Over There With That Intern. [I assume Chertoff will survive, simply because he has a gaunt, haunted, tortured look, which fits his job well, whereas Michael Brown looked pampered and soft, like someone who in his entire life had never suffered from anything worse than bunions.]

  Speaking of prosecutorial vengeance: We've got two nursing home owners indicted for negligent homicide because 34 of their patients drowned. But the lawyer says they were heroes, saving even more patients, and staying put throughout the storm. Expect a world-beater of a trial. Meanwhile on CNN last night they were talking about a criminal investigation of another nursing home where 14 patients died. But this one is different: They died because no help came for days and days. And the nursing home is run by nuns. The nuns never left their posts, through hell and high water. So, um, are we ready to start indicting nuns?

    Talking point for Bush: "I blame the nuns."

    [Now this, from RT, who said he read a biography of Dorothy Parker, who visited Hearst Castle, and then wrote the following in the visitor's book. RT says she must have thought the place was tacky:

   Upon my honor
   I saw a Madonna
   Standing in a niche,
   Above the door
   Of the private whore
   Of the world's biggest son of a bitch.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 15, 2005; 8:51 AM ET
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