9/13/2005

Daily Kos: Newsweek Castrates Bush

Newsweek Castrates Bush
by Thomas C
Sun Sep 11th, 2005 at 09:13:12 CDT

Newsweek published its hurricane post-mortem this morning. It is as scathing an indictment of a president as I've ever seen. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9287434/site/newsweek/ The article begins on a note of a disdain for bush's carefully cultivated image: It's a standing joke among the president's top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? Warm and hearty in public, Bush can be cold and snappish in private, and aides sometimes cringe before the displeasure of the president of the United States, or, as he is known in West Wing jargon, POTUS.

* Thomas C's diary :: ::
*

The bad news? Mr. President, you've got to cut short your five week vacation by two lousy days. WH aides then begin the delicate task of piercing bush's bubble of obliviosness with unpleasant realities in New Orleans. bush was, according to the article, totally ignorant about the devastation wrought by the storm. "How this could be-how the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness," as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century-is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace."

The paragraph I just quoted regarding bush's obliviousness is the fourth paragraph of the Newsweek article. Believe it or not, it's downhill for bushie from there.

Congressional investigations will take months to sort out who is to blame. A NEWSWEEK reconstruction of the government's response to the storm shows how Bush's leadership style and the bureaucratic culture combined to produce a disaster within a disaster.

[Describing bush's reaction to Blanco's urgent phone plea for help]: "There are a number of steps Bush could have taken, short of a full-scale federal takeover, like ordering the military to take over the pitiful and (by now) largely broken emergency communications system throughout the region. But the president, who was in San Diego preparing to give a speech the next day on the war in Iraq, went to bed."

He just went to bed. Ouch. I mean OUCH. I think even Nixon and Carter, who would have little empathy for presidents feeling the lash of the media, would have to cringe at this one.

The Newsweek article concludes with an account of the meeting on Air Force One on the tarmac of New Orleans airport. It is Karl Rove's worst nightmare. Years of assiduously cultivating an image of bush as bold leader, the taciturn but decisive cowboy, are utterly vaporized within two paragraphs.

Various local officials are detailing their greivances to bush about the lack of federal response. bush repeatedly, and blithely, reacts to their complains by turning to aides and instructing them to "fix it." But then the discussion bogs down in a "fraught discussion" of authority. The image Newsweek has painted of this scene on Air Force One is one of aimlessness, absolute fecklessness; a situation crying out for leadership. Someone who'd slam their fist on the goddamn burnished oak conference table on AF1 and shout "We just need to cut through this and do what it takes to have a more-controlled command structure. If that means federalizing it, let's do it."

In fact, that's exactly what happened, according to Newsweek. Was this bush addressing WH staff, local officials, or the entire congintent? No. It as Mayor Ray Nagin addressing bush.

Nagin then suggests that Gen. Honore be put in charge. Newsweek quotes bush, seemingly ever more passive, turning to Blanco and saying "well, what do you think of that Governor?" Blanco responds by saying that she'd rather discuss the issue with bush in private. Again, according to Newsweek, it is Nagin who pushes the aimless agenda forward, saying to bush and Blanco "well why don't you do that now." Blanco and bush then dutifully repair to privacy at their subordinate's command.

The article concludes with the following paragraph:

"Late last week, Bush was, by some accounts, down and angry. But another Bush aide described the atmosphere inside the White House as "strangely surreal and almost detached." At one meeting described by this insider, officials were oddly self-congratulatory, perhaps in an effort to buck each other up. Life inside a bunker can be strange, especially in defeat."

Daily Kos: Newsweek Castrates Bush

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