Skip to comments.Ex-Aides Say Bush Never Recovered from Katrina
Posted on 12/29/2008 8:54:24 PM PST by marshmallow
WASHINGTON Hurricane Katrina not only pulverized the Gulf Coast in 2005, it knocked the bully pulpit out from under President George W. Bush, according to two former advisers who spoke candidly about the political impact of the government's poor handling of the natural disaster.
"Katrina to me was the tipping point," said Matthew Dowd, Bush's pollster and chief strategist for the 2004 presidential campaign. "The president broke his bond with the public. Once that bond was broken, he no longer had the capacity to talk to the American public. State of the Union addresses? It didn't matter. Legislative initiatives? It didn't matter. P.R.? It didn't matter. Travel? It didn't matter."
Dan Bartlett, former White House communications director and later counselor to the president, said: "Politically, it was the final nail in the coffin."
Their comments are a part of an oral history of the Bush White House that Vanity Fair magazine compiled for its February issue, which hits newsstands in New York and Los Angeles on Wednesday, and nationally on Jan. 6. Vanity Fair published comments by current and former government officials, foreign ministers, campaign strategists and numerous others on topics that included Iraq, the anthrax attacks, the economy and immigration.
Lawrence Wilkerson, top aide and later chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, said that as a new president, Bush was like Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee whom critics said lacked knowledge about foreign affairs. When Bush first came into office, he was surrounded by experienced advisers like Vice President Dick Cheney and Powell, who Wilkerson said ended up playing damage control for the president.
"It allowed everybody to believe that this Sarah Palin-like president because, let's face it, that's what he was was going to be protected....
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The Katrina failure should be laid at the State and local level.
Bush’s chief problem seems to have been that he appointed thousands of moles and traitors at all levels of his administration, who turned on him whenever they got the chance. He lost control of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, the State Department, the EPA, the Treasury, and just about everything else.
We all know that the real screw-ups in Katrina were the NOLA and Louisiana politicians, notably the mayor and governor. And of course the press lied their heads off over it.
But Bush has been ill served by his appointees, including these two. And he did a lousy job of talking to and counteracting the press, as well. He was much too polite to the Louisiana politicians who were screwing him and blaming him for their own messes.
Looks to me that GWB’s main downfall was hiring a bunch of no-talent, turncoat clowns.
George Bush has his faults. Lord above knows he does. But, to make unsubstaniated claims that folks close to the president describe him a fool, stupid and an imbecile is out of line.
But Ray Nagin was reelected!
The problem is when the Dems came out in the aftermath and pinned this on Bush there were no Repubs that came out to counter these charges and put the blame back where it belonged directly on the Gov and Mayor.
stupid is as stupid does
G.W.Bs Father got screwed by his perceived inaction to a major hurricane as well.
I would have loved to see him say we tried but Mayor Nagin was hiding under his desk and Gov. Blanco was hiding in her bedroom, but President Bush would never point a finger at the real problem people, this became his burden to bear.
Who hired these backstabbers?
Once that bond was broken, he no longer had the capacity to talk to the American public.
No, Bush was a terrible communicator before Katrina, during Katrina, and after Katrina. He has his strengths and he accomplished some great things, but he was rarely able to bypass the MSM spin and talk to the American public.
Katrina may be “down the list” but Bush did display a political tin ear with his comment about “great job, Brownie” to his good-ole-boy FEMA director when there were shortcomings in the Federal response. Lord knows, the governor and mayor were screwing the pooch by the numbers so the Federal response needed to step it up a notch to cover the state/local SNAFUs.
He wanted the amnesty, he was holding news conferences with Vicente Fox prior to 911 stating how they were going to do this, 911 put it off to the second term.
So was William Jefferson. Doesn’t say much for the voters in NOLA, does it.
Ok - I read some of your comments on other threads and you seem like a reasonably smart person so I have a question/comment or two.
W has an MBA from Harvard - how can you be dumb as a box of rocks and still get that? He also is/was a jet pilot - you can’t be stupid and do that.
I’m not saying he hasn’t made huge mistakes - he seems to have become very passive and certainly hasn’t displayed a conservative soul. His drove me nuts on amnesty, not to mention a few other things, but not Katrina.
So is W’s brain really Dick Cheney? Is that why W didn’t choose an electable successor to be his VP during the second term?
I thought it deranged at the time, and still find it unfathomable, that anyone could possibly blame “the Federal government” for a natural disaster.
But blame them, they do.
As if “they (the feds)” had given no warning of impending doom.
I can relate only to a certain extent.
Tell me a Cat 1 is on the way...I might turn on my emergency radio before I go to sleep.
Tell me a Cat 2 is headed my way...I will fill sandbags, bathtubs, and stockpile more food and water, enough for several weeks.
Tell me of a Cat 3...I will empty my checking account to drive away/evacuate to a safer area, two states away.
Cat4 or Cat5 ... see Cat 3, add financial distress.
“stupid is as stupid does”
If I remember correctly, Nagin had people who had moved out of the area vote. So, yes he was reelected but by whom? It wasn't by the people living in the area.
Bush’s biggest weakness: Doesn’t defend himself. It leaves openings for those around him who are gutless and lack any conviction, except to play the PR side of the political fence in the way that best serves them. For instance, many in the state department, including so many Powell confidantes, sabotaged Bush in multiple ways. Personally, despite failings - and EVERY president has had shortcomings - I’m glad we had a mature adult leading our nation the last eight years, one who put what he firmly believed was best for the country before his own interests. Now we get a potential Benedict Arnold for president, a guy whose resume makes Sarah Palin’s look like Winston Churchill’s by comparison.