The effort is being directed by Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, and his communications director, Dan Bartlett. It began late last week after Congressional Republicans called White House officials to register alarm about what they saw as a feeble response by Mr. Bush to the hurricane, according to Republican Congressional aides.
As a result, Americans watching television coverage of the disaster this weekend began to see, amid the destruction and suffering, some of the most prominent members of the administration - Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Donald H. Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense; and Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state - touring storm-damaged communities.
Ms. Rice did not return to Washington until Thursday, after she was spotted at a Broadway show and shopping for shoes, an image that Republicans said buttressed the notion of a White House unconcerned with tragedy.
You know, as Secretary of State, Rice's involvement in rescue and clean up would have been minimal; picking on her is, at a certain level, unfair. But, as one of the most prominent faces of the administration, she should have just stayed in her hotel room, and her decision instead to go shopping and to see "Spamalot" is worthy of criticism. And now that she's being sent out to put a more competent face on the administration, it is even more so.
But really, I started to wonder what had happened to Karl in the midst of all of this. The events of the last two weeks are almost enough to make you forget his treasonous act of revealing the identity of a CIA agent two years ago. Almost.