Tuesday, September 06, 2005


We're still staring agape at the email we got from the BBC News people, saying that President Bush is going to take personal charge of the investigation into the Katrina screw-ups. Now, we didn't expect an independent investigation, but at least they could have pretended - how can the head of an administration lead the investigation into claims that his administration was complicit in the deaths of thousands of its own citizens?

Meanwhile, hs Daddy and Mommy, who got him the job in the first place in a bid to stop him running any more businesses into the ground, have been on Larry King Live, attempting to answer Kanye West's criticisms of him. Of course, Larry King is little more than Wogan with a desk rather than a journalist; and BMW have considered using the phrase 'a softer ride than Larry King Live' to market its top-end motors, so you wouldn't expect much of a debate:

G. BUSH: Sure. I don't think -- certainly I'm not satisfied but I'm just talking about the blame game and there was one particularly vicious comment that the president didn't care, was insensitive on ethnicity.

KING: Yes.

G. BUSH: Insensitive about race. Now that one hurt because I know this president and I know he does care and you know what can he do? He can just go out and do what he's doing today, showing that the federal government is involved, has been involved, will continue to be involved.

That may well have been all he could do - which is why it's especially infuriating that he didn't do anything like that until Thursday, isn't it?

And also... isn't the White House line that the Federal Government would have loved to have helped people drowning in their own homes earlier, but weren't able to until they had some sort of formal invitation? It's odd that Pa doesn't mention that.

KING: How did you react, Barbara, when race was brought up and someone mentioned that your son doesn't care?

B. BUSH: I don't believe that. I really didn't hear it. I'm going to tell you the truth but I don't believe it. I know it's not true and of course as George says if you want to really get in trouble criticize my son to me.

KING: I know.

B. BUSH: But I really didn't hear that at all today. People came up to me all day long and said "God bless your son," people of different races and it was very, very moving and touching and they felt like when he flew over that it made all the difference in their lives so I just don't hear that.

Of course you didn't hear it, Bush - like your son, you're living in a little bubble where you only meet carefully selected people who tell you what you want to hear. That's why you're on Larry King Live, a man so supine he can't even bring himself to say Kanye West's name and has to make oblique references to "someone".

Of course, we might find it easier to buy George and Laura's protestations of how much their family care for poor folk if... well, if it were true. But as Barbara Bush's comments at the Houston Astrodome show, they really don't:

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this (chuckling) is working very well for them.

We suspect Kanye West won't, this evening, be drafting a letter of apology.


Anonymous said...

Give me a break. As if this was GWB's fault??? I know there's a lot of irrational hatred towards him, but the haters are getting a little carried away. GWB ordered the Mayor to evacuate on 9/27, but he did not do his job. Not everything that happens is "Bush's fault" and people are starting to see the finger-pointing for what it is - silly partisan attacks.

Anonymous said...

But surely, when he saw the desperate situation in which his "fellow Americans" found themselves and saw that the city and state weren't pulling together to do anything constructive to help, surely his first instinct should have been to say "Well, if they aren't going to do anything, I will"? And that doesn't appear to have happened until various advisers had time to do his thinking for him.

Anonymous said...

1. Yes, exactly. GWB should have just moved in and taken over the state of Louisiana. No one would have objected to that.

2. Barbara Bush is an idiot.

3. Kanye West is almost as big an idiot. Three of the four hardest hit areas are majority white. However, as I've pointed out here before the media is focused on Orleans parish, which is majority black. Given that Kanye also criticized the media's portrayal of blacks in his tirade, he might have wanted to consider that the pictures being shown on TV do not represent the whole picture.

4. As I've also noted here before, if we're going to throw around phrases like "complicit in the deaths of thousands of its citizens," there's plenty more evidence that Mayor Nagin's (and Gov. Blanco's) failure to commandeer city and school buses to evacuate the poor out of the city did that than any of the complaints lodged against the feds (though some of those may be valid as well). This was what the city and state were supposed to do under their disaster plans. They didn't do it. Instead, the poor were dumped at places like the Superdome, which FEMA officials told them was a joke long before this storm. When the Superdome filled, the Mayor told people to go to the convention center, which was not an official shelter -- and then didn't tell the feds they had done this. City and state officials also kept the Red Cross and other medical teams out of the city.

So let's have an investigation. I think the public deserves to know who screwed up what, and to have problems fixed. If Michael Brown screwed things up, he should be sacked. But I think any fair investigation will leave reflexive Bush-haters sorely disappointed.

In the meantime, it would be nice if the people in that category could point to specific examples of the feds screwing up as badly as the Mayor and the Governor -- after the 72-96 hour period identified in all of the relevant disaster plans. Because someone who just didn't care probably wouldn't have personally begged the Mayor and the Governor to issue a mandatory evacuation order or declare a disaster area before Katrina even hit land, so that FEMA could preposition 18 disaster medical teams, medical supplies and equipment, urban search and rescue teams along with millions of MREs (Meals, ready-to-eat), liters of water, tarpaulins, and truckloads of ice.

Anonymous said...

Come on ian/Karl...play fair.

No one here said it was 'GWB's fault'. I think it's already recognised that mistakes have been made at all levels.

On the other hand, to imply that it isn't, in any way, before an examination, and that GW is a fit person to head an enquiry is surely madness.

Karl: Your default position that Bush WILL be exonorated (made prior to any investigation) shows that either you already know all the facts, in which case you should be in charge of the enquiry -in fact we don't even need one if you know exactly what happened- or that you don't think it'll be fairly conducted. There aren't any other logical possiblities at this stage.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Okay, Karl, Ian, here's a quick question about the evacuation:

The Mayor of New Orleans, on the Sunday, gets all the school buses New Orleans has - first of all, how do you fit all the New Orelans who don't have cars into the school buses? Or are there more poor school children in New Orleans than are there are poor generally?

Secondly: where does he send the buses?

Because, without someone at a national level taking that responsibility, they're only going to be able to drive as far as the county line, aren't they?

Yes, there's plenty of blame to go round. But, ultimately, Bush is the head of the government.

And Karl: you've kind of shot your own argument down in flames. Three of the four hardest hit places are, as you say, majority white.

Oddly, three quarters of the crowds locked in the conference centre by the government weren't white.

W.C. Varones said...

Oh, man! I had it all wrong. Kanye West is a comedic genius.

Anonymous said...

i lived in new orleans so u should allm just shut up b/c u wenrnt down there and u didnt see or feel how we were living now im mad and am going to blame someone and i blame bush why b/c if it were in iraq he would been there sooner

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