La La La La La

Last night I linked to the newly discovered pre-Katrina video that shows President Bush beng told Katrina could be bad. The Associated Press reported:

In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans’ Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.

Bush didn’t ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: “We are fully prepared.”

Bob Geiger wrote,

Referring multiple times to Katrina as “the big one,” Brown also told Bush that the Louisiana Superdome, sitting 12 feet below sea level, might also fall apart and create, in the ex-FEMA chief’s words, “a catastrophe within a catastrophe.”

Bush asked no questions during the briefing – can you imagine Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter sitting silently with something of this scope about to happen in our country? – and showed no evidence of grasping the magnitude of the hit New Orleans was about to take.

Then, four days after Katrina struck, Bush appeared on television and acted as if the hurricane’s potential for severe damage was a surprise to everyone. “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees,” Bush said in an interview with ABC News.

Via Steve Soto at the Left Coaster:

Listen, here’s the problem that happened in Katrina. There was no situational awareness, and that means that we weren’t getting good, solid information from people who were on the ground, and we need to do a better job.

–Bush, Tuesday, to ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas

Translation: Nobody told me nothin’, so it ain’t my fault. And that was a lie.

As the tragedy of Katrina unfolded we heard a number of excuses for the President’s odd behavior, including the argument that disaster response isn’t really the federal government’s job. Whatever bad happened was entirely the fault of state and local governments. But here we see Bush telling those state and local government officials that the feds were “fully prepared” to respond and would send every resource at their disposal.

Jane Hamsher writes,

Hoping to counteract the damage of the story, the White House leaked Newsweek transcripts from daily noon FEMA conference calls during and after Katrina to show how engaged and concerned Dubya was. Trouble is, these are transcripts that they had initially refused to provide to congressional investigators.

Once again, we see that the Bushies are helplessly inept at responding to a crisis, but nobody can beat ’em at political damage control. Does this, perhaps, tell us something about Bushie priorities?

I’ll have more to say later today about the ongoing struggle between Bush and Reality. But let’s think a minute about the struggle between Bush and Competence. I’ve said before that I’ve had the misfortune of working for a lot of incompetent bosses, but even the dumbest among those understood that if some Big Bleeping Deal was going in they had to at least look as if they were busily engaged with it. Yet while corpses rotted on the streets of New Orleans, Bush was merrily traipsing around the country cutting cakes and playing rock star.

Another excuse is that his staff wasn’t keeping him informed. Even if that’s true, this says to me that the President feels absolutely no sense of responsibility for keeping himself informed. Before the hurricane he sat in a room with a bunch of experts who told him there could be devastating damage and loss of life. Yet he was so disinterested in the aftermath that it took him days to catch up to what everyone else in the country was watching on television.

According to Mark Hosenball of Newsweek, the transcripts the White House had initially refused to provide congressional investigators are supposed to show that the President really was engaged in the Katrina disaster but had been given conflicting information about the levee breach.

So instead of demanding better information, Bush traipses around the country cutting cakes and playing rock star. Yeah, I’m real reassured.

If the confusion had lasted only a few hours one might blame bureaucratic incompetence, which I’ll come back to in a second. But the hurricane struck on Monday and Bush didn’t grasp how bad the situation was until Friday (if then). And that was only because his staff put together a DVD of news reports and urged him to watch it.

Regarding the bureaucratic incompetence — the White House continues to have these little communications glitches, as the recent gun accident episode revealed (once again). Is Bush rattling the cages in the White House and demanding better performance from his staff? Has he ever? If so, it ain’t workin’.

Without knowing the man personally it is hard to know why the President is so disturbingly warped. Theories I’ve heard include brain damage from substance abuse and personality disorder resulting from emotionally unavailable parents. We might also reflect on the fact that in his whole life Bush has rarely if ever been in a position to have to work for someone else. Maybe on paper, on some Harken Oil organizational chart, Bush “reported” to somebody. But in reality whatever positions he was given came to him because of his family connections. He was never expected to perform any function except grace the boardroom with his presence. The work of the company just kind of happened without his participation. Maybe he doesn’t know that normally executives are supposed to do stuff.

Whatever. Bottom line, the boy ain’t right.

Maybe the Constitution needs a “twit” clause — a provision for removing a President who is pathologically out to lunch.

19 thoughts on “La La La La La

  1. Look at the picture of Bush in March 2001 with the South Korean leader and you could see plainly’ the boy ain’t right’. I’m just glad that finally others see it too.

  2. Nnot the government’s duty, hmnn?
    A your neighborhood…who ya gonna call?
    Molly-maid! ?

  3. Molly-maid — don’t laugh. I remember after Katrina Joe Scarborough said that “church groups” should be called upon to be “first responders” instead of the federal government. So when you’re buried under ten feet of rubble after an earthquake, the Methodist Ladies Bake Sale Auxiliary will come and dig you out.

  4. Over at Effect Measure, HHS Secretary Leavitt is quoted as saying that if the bird flu turns into a pandemic, don’t expect any help from the feds. State and local communities will just have to take care of things themselves.

    Conservative estimates have 2 million Americans dead if the bird flu becomes a pandemic. The west is a tinderbox and this summer is going to be one big fire. Hurricane season is right around the corner in the Gulf. And we’re giving port security to the United Arab Emerates.

    Stock up on canned goods, everybody. If anything at all happens in our country in the next three years, we’re screwed.

  5. >Bush asked no questions during the briefing – can you imagine Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter sitting silently with something of this scope about to happen in our country?

    The Republicans always want to play, “B-b-but, Clinton…”.

    Someone in the MSM – say Time or NewsWeek – should do a comparison of the 1997 flooding of Grand Forks, ND to New Orleans’ situation. The organization of FEMA, the mobilization of the state’s (and nearby states’) National Guard, and the reassuring and inspiring visit by the President all stand in absolute contrast to the Bush misadministration’s New Orleans fustercluck.

    Grand Forks came back stronger than ever. Will New Orleans be anything but a shadow of itself, with so many of its citizens now a disporia?

  6. It has been said that about 98 percent of our ports are taken over my foreign countries who are for the most part our friends. However we thought the British were also our friends and they were bought out by the Arabs now my question is what is to stop other so called freindly countries from selling their ports to Arabs for the right price. It could be come like a game of chess and pretty soon we may have a check mate.
    Another thing as Americans we like bargains. We shop at Walmart and eat at McDonalds but since they hire cheap labor from over the border just think how much we really are paying for that bargain. We ask no question we offer dentist and doctor care for free we give food stamp to illigals so really in the long run you are paying a lot of money for those bargain prices.

  7. Do you think it’s possible that Bush was plastered during that briefing? That would account for the absence of questions and the later statements indicating “forgetfulness.” After all, he was still on vacation, and a lot of people do some pretty heavy duty drinking on vacation.

  8. I think your comments on the source of Bush’s incompetence are right on. He has never–NEVER–been forced to fail or succeed on his own talents (imagine that for a minute–55 and never tested in the real world). Even in the early days of this Administration, he relied on Cheney to run the show. I think the problem is that after 9/11 Bush started to believe his own poll numbers, and he actually began to think that he knew what he was doing and could make decisions himself. The moment Bush was allowed by Rove and Cheney to take control of his Presidency is the moment it was doomed to fail, especially because he was at that point making implementation decisions on mostly ideologically or patronage-driven policies promoted by Cheney, the neo-cons and his political patrons.

  9. We can grope around forever in a fog to try to understand the reality behind the Bush team……methinks it best to always ask, “Who profits?”
    In the Katrina situation, property insurers most certainly profited by the delay in official recognition of flooding taking place……the ‘delay’ allowed the flooding to be considered separate from the hurricane. All who would have been insured against hurricane damage were out of luck when the damage causation was ‘officially’ named by officialdom [especially Chertoff] reports as a separate later event.

  10. The boy is either drunk or heavily medicated – why else do they keep insisting “the president is/was fully engaged?”

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  12. Do you remember the old commercial that showed–

    This is your brain–

    This is your brain on drugs!

    Even a druggie and alcoholic can become President.

    He walks just like his Mother, has anyone ever noticed that?

  13. This gives different meaning to his Education Program, “Let No Child Be Left Behind” (even the druggie!)

  14. Bush was on coke during his father’s campaign for president. So I believe he still is. Why do any of you believe that he really cares about this country or any of the people in it. If we can.t contribute to a Republican campaign then we are expendable

  15. Has the pic of W playing the guitar been altered? – Because it sure looks like he has a hand-rolled cigarette (of some kind or another) in his mouth with a faint stream of smoke drifting off from it. Alternatively it could be part of the set behind him – but since it isn’t a red, white, and blue poster screaming some jingoistic slogan like “Our Crusade Will Be Victorious”, I would tend to discount that alternative.

  16. However, the video certainly does indicate that Brown was not nearly so incompetent and out of touch as he got blamed for being. I’m not saying he did a great job, but obviously he was a lot more aware of what was going on and what might happen, and was trying, in some ineffectual way, to get stuff done, than he was given credit for shortly after Katrina.

    Can you say “fall guy?” I thought you could.

  17. George put the dumb in dumbass…check out my “transcript” of his conversation with Brown on my blog…

  18. LOL, had to re-view that guitar pic, and mmm, looks more like a lizardly or snake like tongue extention and find the commericial ref (brain on drugs) , well have had that thought often since back in 2000 frankly and have never figured how some thought this guy credible or even LIKABLE enough to just go an mark the ballot in his favor . Yeah, AM one of those that YET bemoans the slection way back in 2000 for really think that set the tone…Round the world , folks shook their collective noggins and wondered about the REAL status of this experimental democracy that was showing such a flaw in their process that allowed manipulatives slip a character like this into what was considered THE WORLD supreme positon of leadership and figured to be a major influence all over the world not just here in our own homeland…THAT folks was a major alert and bespoke things REALLY WERE NOT WHAT WE THOUGHT nor what they all seemed and yet we did nothing and can only guess we figured OTHERS would get it all “corrected”. ALL the revelations from the first electionary/selectionary right on thru to these current days…the streets are empty and quite dismally remain so without what should be occuring…massive protests and demands to oust these woefuls and get this country truly on track for the greater common good but NOT happening and it may be way too late anyway.

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