Will Trump Avoid Bush’s Katrina Mistakes?

Everything I’m reading about Trump vis à vis Harvey keeps saying he’s avoiding making Dubya’s Katrina mistakes. For example, he insisted on scheduling a trip to Texas even as the rains were still falling

Mr. Trump, his aides say, is eager to avoid the mistakes made by President George W. Bush in 2005, when he took a relatively hands-off approach to the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.

Even though Vice President Mike Pence and federal officials from the Department of Homeland Security have taken the lead on negotiating many of the details of the response, Mr. Trump has taken pains to emphasize his personal involvement in the crisis.

He’s even trying to improve on the optics

Trump likely will avoid replicating a George W. Bush moment — the former president deeply regretted the images taken of him flying over New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, as the optics made him look detached from the victims. Sanders told reporters she was unsure as to whether the president would fly over Houston but said due to scattered showers, there are no plans to helicopter while in Texas.

As I remember, the problem Bush had wasn’t with the photos; it was that he was photographed looking at Katrina damage from a plane window, and then he went back to Washington and did nothing until his aides started screaming at him about it.

So Trump wants to be seen doing something about Texas. The problem is, that strutting around in front of cameras is not the same thing as doing something. People ultimately will judge Trump by results, not by optics.

People will cut their politicians some slack for a couple of days. They’re relieved to be alive. But after a few days of being confined to a shelter with clogged toilets, not enough food and no changes of clothes, they start to get irritated. Right now the Houston Convention Center may be turning into the New Orleans Super Bowl II. Let’s hope not.

Trump is fortunate that his director of FEMA, Brock Long, has a background in emergency management, unlike the unfortunate Michael Brown. But Trump has already made one Bush mistake by praising the “great job” his people were doing before they’d done enough to be graded.  If relief efforts get bogged down somewhere, that could come back and bite Trump.

Further, the Trumps have already made one optical mistake. Here they are getting ready to fly to Corpus Christi this morning —

Melania is getting slammed for the stiletto heels. She changed into white tennies on the plane — white, Melania? Not expecting to go anywhere muddy? Some have pointed out that Trump’s off-white chinos probably weren’t a smart choice, either. But I’m looking forward to his showing up in Houston wearing a tool belt in a few months.

The real test isn’t going to be how the Trumps are photographed. The real test is if people can see that work is being done to relieve their immediate suffering and rebuild what was destroyed. The latter will take years, yes. But will the rebuilding effort under a Trump administration avoid the waste, fraud, political favoritism and general boondoggling that marked the federal government’s Katrina efforts? Will Trump be able to pass up using Harvey to make a buck for his own businesses? This is Trump we’re talking about, remember.

Houston, you have a problem …

14 thoughts on “Will Trump Avoid Bush’s Katrina Mistakes?

  1. i’m trying to ignore Melania. Nobody is really expecting to see her in waders dragging the distressed into waiting boats. She’s not Sean Penn, after all. I am still of the opinion she has landed in the White House very much as an unintended consequence.

    But Trump? I fully expect him to want to build some hotels and condos with federal funds at sweet, sweet low interest rates. I’m sure he’ll put in underground parking so the floodwaters will have a place to run off to rather than soiling the gilded lobby furniture.

  2. A natural disaster is never an opportunity to make points, but there is the risk of loosing points. Nobody is going to get good grades for the Houston recovery in a month. It’s a huge mess – overwhelming – and folks in TX won’t be pleased. The BEST you can do is try to get substantial emergency help in there. Food water and sanitary shelter is a must. Medical help has to follow – there’s lots of ways we can have health problems soon.

    I hope politics will get relief to Houston. Trump thinks he can get reelected and TX is a must-win state. That works for the residents of Houston because Trump is likely to uncork the resources. I want help for those people because they are people and any democrats who play politics are idiots. For this moment and issue, we can be bipartisan.

  3. I’m with Doug:
    No politics.
    But I doubt t-RUMPLE-THIN-sKKKin will be able stop himself – that reqiures something he completely lacks, and that’s discipline.

    Hurricane Harvey be a test for our newly further depleted government.
    We’ll see how far Leninst Bannon’s attempts to undermine/destroy our Federal Government hàve gone. This – THIS – is when people need governments – all parts of them – to help them. And the bigger, the better!

    And we’ll get front row seats for the stupid, ignorant, bigoted, and evil, Scott Pruitt’s new show, “Who the Fuck Needs an EPA?”
    That crap-fest of a show needs to be replaced by “We All Do!!!”, which should be running 24 X7 X 52, in several states for, oh… I don’t know… YEARS!!!

    My biggest question is, who will our Dominionist “Christian” Evangelicals say caused God’s wrath in the form of this Biblical flooding?
    Themselves, for going too far to make the understanding and forgiving God who was Jesus’ father, seem like he was some bellowing, howling and stomping Protestant “Christian” TV Preacher, high on meth, “Columbian Marching Powder,” and the angry, jealous, vindictitve, and murderous Old Testament Yahweh?
    Or, some women who got abortions, and LGBTQ folks who get on their knees for something besides just praying?
    I know.
    Too easy.
    They’ll blame the destructive winds and rains on those who suck and sweat.

  4. Trump has already failed. Just a couple weeks ago at his ill-fated Trump Tower presser (before he said NAZI’s where fine people) he bragged about cutting Obama era regulations, you know needless gubmint stuff! Well one of the regulations he eliminated was a provision that mandated civil planners consider the effects of climate change before they build, Trump said fuck it and tore it up. Two weeks later we get Harvey, I’m a non-believer when it comes to the sky-wizard but hey maybe just maybe!

  5. Yeah, Trump might avoid Bush’s mistakes but he’ll be sure to make his own. When you’re consumed with narcissism to the degree that Trump is, mistakes are an inevitable outcome in everything you do.

  6. Well you can buy her FLOTUS hat on her web site for $40. And his USA hat in 5 colors also.
    Sorry haven’t figured out the linky thing on my android…

  7. The Bush Katrina story was even worse than that – he was on vacation, and Was Not To Be Disturbed. When he could finally be arsed to cancel the end of his vacation, *then* he did a fly-over, looking out the window.

    There was also repeated lies about what was going on. Upon hearing of the people trapped in the convention center, which had received *no* assistance, “Brownie” announced that they’d been cared for, and *everyone* had received a hot meal in the past day, and some had had two. This is what meant he was doing “a heck of a job” – he kept making TV appearances that said all the right things. “We’ve flown in X_tons of fresh water, ice, food supplies, tents, blahblahblah” and the reporters on the ground were quickly seeing it was all BS.

    Part of the “optics” was just the pundit class suddenly realizing what *everyone* who was truly watching Iraq could see – the man was simply not competent.

    Trump, though – Trump of the big trucks and fire engines – he’s tickled to be bragging about how good things are going, and, of course, “we’re going to rebuild this, this is going to be the BEST rebuilding ever, people five, ten years from now will be looking back to learn how well we did this.”

    Just like how we’re “winning” so much we’re about to call him up and say “please, Mr. _Resident, it’s too much… too much winning! Can you maybe dial it back a little?”

    It would do my heart good to have a reporter write “Trump, as is his wont, made vague, spectacular promises about the rebuilding, a process about which he knows absolutely nothing.” Not just here, but in other places.

    “Trump once again made non-specific statements claiming extraordinary results about topic_of_the_day would occur, with no mention of how or why we should expect those results.”

  8. Trump continues to hold at 35% approval for now. Estimates of the cost of recovery for Texas are over 65 Billion! Talk about your timing! Trump has moved to tax reform for the rich (especially himself – he wants to end the Estate Tax). The Freedom Caucus will have kittens over what Trump would do to the deficit because (IMO) Trump will spend bigly in Texas and commit to uuugge investments in the state Trump has to win, while reducing taxes on the ultra-rich. The numbers don’t and can NOT add up w/out deficit spending. None of this can go anywhere without democrats supporting if the FC arches their back (and they will). SO Trum will lead the charge in a crusade for the rich that he can’t win while Houston suffers. (It won’t be Trump’s fault that Houston is a mess, but the optics of spending energy for the rich at the time that the misery in Houston peaks… is just lousy for Trump.) IF Trump was politically smart, he’d become the president of Houston and be all over that week after week for the political benefit of looking like he’s aware of the 99%. He won’t.

  9. Here you go! In case anybody has forgotten what a class act is..check this out. With Trump being such an obnoxious bag of shit as president it should be a reminder of what a dignified and intelligent president looks like. Notice how Obama thinks to mention the suffering and hardship of our fellow Americans. Also notice no teleprompters..it’s straight from the heart.

  10. avoid the waste, fraud, political favoritism and general boondoggling

    In Texas? All signs point to no.

  11. “It would do my heart good to have a reporter write “Trump, as is his wont, made vague, spectacular promises about the rebuilding, a process about which he knows absolutely nothing.” Not just here, but in other places.”

    Indeed. “A few silly words by the President.”

Comments are closed.