Louisiana Democrats can lambaste Bush and the federal government's response to hurricane Katrina all they want without objection from the Times. But let Republican Gov. Haley Barbour dare praise the federal response, and it "raises eyebrows." That's according to a Tuesday story from reporter Michael Cooper, "Bush Has Staunch Defender Amid Critics on Gulf Coast." The text box reads: "Praise for the federal response from a rising G.O.P. star raises eyebrows in his state."
"Mr. Barbour's praise of the federal efforts has put him at odds with some other Mississippi officials who have bemoaned the slow response in their areas and has put him at risk of sounding like a Pollyanna to Mississippians still struggling in the storm's aftermath. But the strategy is unsurprising for a canny political strategist like Mr. Barbour - a former political director in the Reagan White House, chairman of the Republican Party, and powerful Washington lobbyist - who won the governorship two years ago by in part emphasizing the strength of his close ties to President Bush."
Cooper makes Barbour explain himself, something the Times never demands from Democrats in Louisiana: "Mr. Barbour said his praise of the federal government was not a political calculation. 'I get all these questions all the time about, you know, there's not enough water in X or there's not enough ice in Y, and almost always there is something to that,' Mr. Barbour said at a news conference here on Monday. 'But that's why you've just got to manage this deal and keep trying to wrestle this bear down to the ground, and that's what we're doing.'"
To discuss the Times' suspicions of Haley Barbour, go to MRC's blog, NewsBusters. The direct address for the node is here. 
For the full Cooper on Barbour, click here. 
Katrina Editorializing on the Front Page
Richard Stevenson's lead story for Tuesday, "President Names Roberts As Choice For Chief Justice," is ostensibly about John Roberts, but there's plenty of politicized talk about the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, which Stevenson assumes was "slow":
Stevenson editorializes: "The federal government's slow response to suffering inflicted by Hurricane Katrina, on top of the continued bloodshed in Iraq and high gasoline prices, has eaten into Mr. Bush's political strength, emboldening his opponents."
He notes mildly, without objection, that the Democrats are using the hurricane to play politics with the Supreme Court: "With the White House on the defensive over Mr. Bush's performance in dealing with the hurricane, Democrats pressed their advantage on Monday, pledging to subject Judge Roberts to more intensive scrutiny than they had so far and suggesting that the president was already displaying signs of political uncertainty."
For more from Stevenson on Roberts (and Katrina), click here. 
Bush "Trip to Quiet the Critics"
President Bush is on the defensive right from the headline of Tuesday's front-page story from Elisabeth Bumiller  and Clyde Haberman, "Pumps Start in New Orleans - A Trip to Quiet the Critics."
"As criticism raged over the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush returned to the region yesterday, and Army engineers patched up two levees that had been breached by the storm and cautiously began pumping water out of New Orleans.The president's trip, an effort to calm the region and part of a major White House campaign to stem the political damage from the hurricane, came as rescue teams in New Orleans searched for thousands of residents who remained in the city, many having ignored pleas to evacuate."
To read more from Bumiller and Haberman, click here. 
Tennis, Anyone? N.O. Chance
Want to take your mind off the tragedy in New Orleans with some tennis coverage? Too bad. Page One of Tuesday's sports section featured a column from liberal sportswriter William Rhoden, "Sports of the Times" who wants tennis star James Blake to become the next Arthur Ashe and a liberal activist, and chides him for failing to go after Bush on the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.
Beginning of Rhoden excerpt:
"Eight years and several steep challenges later, Blake has developed an Ashe-like demeanor that combines grace and restraint with moral indignation. Can he be the voice of protest and resistance? Last Saturday, Blake had just defeated second-seeded Rafael Nadal when a reporter asked about Hurricane Katrina and the Bush administration's reaction to the disaster. He acknowledged that players were not supposed to talk politics - 'especially to the press.'
"'I feel this is a crisis that deserves a lot of attention, and if possible, more attention,' he said. "I don't want to contradict our president too much but.'
"Blake stopped and thought better of going down that path. 'Actually, I'll leave it at that,' he said. 'Don't want to contradict our president because, you know, we have to follow him and follow his lead.' Ashe, with grace and charm, probably would have spoken his mind and let the chips fall where they may. Give Blake time - and a few major victories."
End of excerpt
For more of Rhoden's column on the black tennis star Blake, click here. 
Who's the "Scandal-Plagued Husband" in the NY Senate Race?
Some non-Katrina bias in Saturday's Metro section story by Hillary-liking reporter Raymond Hernandez  on the senate race shaping up between Sen. Hillary Clinton and prosecutor Jeanine Pirro, "In Contrast to a Republican Rival for the Senate, Clinton Has Her Man Stand by Her."
"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton brought her husband along to the New York State Fair on Friday, drawing a sharp contrast with her likeliest Republican rival in next year's Senate race, who has mostly kept her scandal-plagued husband out of public view since announcing her candidacy."
Later Hernandez revels in the slimy details of Pirro's controversial husband: "Mr. Pirro, an influential Republican lobbyist, served 11 months in federal prison for his conviction on tax fraud in 2000. He also fathered a child in an extramarital relationship in the 1980's, a matter that has recently drawn heavy scrutiny."
As is typical, the Times ignores the scandalous past of Bill Clinton, the other "scandal-plagued husband" involved, mentioning it only obliquely: "Republicans have said that any attempts by Democrats to make an issue of Mr. Pirro's troubles would ultimately backfire, given the personal problems Mr. Clinton has gone through. But Democratic allies of Mrs. Clinton scoff at that, noting that Mr. Clinton is a popular figure in heavily Democratic New York and proved to be an asset in 2000 when he campaigned for her."
For the rest of Hernandez on Hillary, click here.