First is his mischaracterization of Peggy Noonan, in order to portray her as particularly concerned about Bush’s effort so far.
Placed as it is, the question appears to betray Noonan’s doubt about that understanding. In fact, Noonan was listing the types of questions one should ask in order to assess the president’s performance. She was not raising doubts of her own. This is the whole passage from Noonan’s column, in which she was going through a list of players, and assessing their actions so far:
Even his supporters like columnist Peggy Noonan are concerned that the federal government was a bit slow off the mark. She wrote in the Wall Street Journal: "More was needed in terms of sending a US military presence into New Orleans."
She asked about Mr Bush: "Does he understand that what has happened in our Gulf is as important as what is happening in the other Gulf?"
President Bush. The political subtext: Does he understand that what has happened in our gulf is as important as what is happening in the other gulf? Does he know in his gut that the existence of looting, chaos and disease in a great American city, or cities, is a terrible blow that may have deep implications? It was bad luck that on the day it became clear a bad storm was a catastrophe he was giving a major Iraq speech, and bad planning that he arrived back at the White House cradling a yippy puppy. But his Rose Garden statement was solid. Yes, it was a laundry list, but the kind that that gives an impression of comprehensive government action. Having the cabinet there was good. His concern was obvious. But more was needed in terms of sending a U.S. military presence into New Orleans.In other words, her assessment was mostly positive, answering her own question by saying that "His concern was obvious." But Reynolds extracts the one substantive criticism she made and adds to it a question taken out of context in order to make the point that "Even [Bush’s] supporters" are concerned about what he's doing. The impression he leaves of Noonan's piece is, quite simply, false. (Which is odd, because if he was looking for conservative critics of Bush, and particularly Bush's immediate reaction, he could have easily found them at National Review.)
Reynolds also makes a strange statement when wondering why so many people had not evactuated New Orleans, despite being urged to do so.
There has been some dispute about why so many were left behind or stayed behind. In Cuba they would have been taken out. Whether enough transport was available or whether people simply ignored the warnings will have to be examined for lessons to be learned in future.The relevance of what Cuba would have done, even if Reynolds can accurately divine what El Commandante Castro would have done, is lost on me. I’d like to think that Reynolds is not actually comparing the freedom of New Orleans unfavourably with the tyranny of Havana, but frankly I can’t think of any other reason for this statement, and this is, afterall, the BBC. So anything is possible.
Perhaps Mr. Reynolds will bless us with an explanation.