Thursday, March 09, 2006

A deaf man spouting

A deaf man spouting

A videotape of Bush's briefing before Hurricane Katrina exposes him as out of touch with reality

Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday March 9, 2006
The Guardian

On the eve of George Bush's presidential campaign in 2000, the neoconservative Kenneth Adelman cast him as Prince Hal, who "puts the indiscretions of his youth behind him" and "redeems his father's reign". After September 11, Bush was wreathed with regal laurels as Henry V by a clerisy of pundits. From Ground Zero to the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln ("Mission Accomplished") the president struck bold poses, but his choreographed gestures have especially illuminated his hollow crown in the darkened breach of New Orleans.

Article continues

For the first time, last week, the public has seen the spontaneous Bush behind closed doors, in a leaked videotape that recorded his briefing the day before Hurricane Katrina struck. Teleconferenced in from his Crawford ranch, Texas, Bush listens to disaster officials inform him that the storm will be unprecedented in its severity and consequences. "This is, to put it mildly, the big one," says Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Centre, warns: "This hurricane is much larger than Hurricane Andrew ever was." Bush asks not a single question, says, "We are fully prepared", and departs.

The Katrina videotape is defining for Bush's presidency. It exposes a deaf man spouting talking points. After the hurricane hit, he stayed on vacation, went to a birthday party, strummed a guitar with a country and western singer, and on September 1 said: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." On his flight back to Washington, four days after landfall, his aides gave him a DVD of television news reports of the hurricane's impact about which he had done nothing to learn on his own....