September 1, 2005

"Mr. Bush confronts this disaster with his political capital depleted by the war in Iraq."

David Sanger of the NYT analyzes the Bush response to Katrina and compares it to his response to 9/11:
Not since he sat in a Florida classroom as the World Trade Center burned a thousand miles away has President Bush faced a test quite like the one he returned to Washington to confront this afternoon.

After initially stumbling through that disorienting day almost exactly four years ago, Mr. Bush entered what many of his aides believe were the finest hours of his presidency. But unlike 2001, when Mr. Bush was freshly elected and there was little question that the response would include a military strike, Mr. Bush confronts this disaster with his political capital depleted by the war in Iraq....

"The great thing about this president is that he doesn't try to use tragedy to gain immediate attention for himself," said Bob Martinez, a former governor of Florida who has endured his share of hurricanes and other disasters. "He talks to those with knowledge, and then he acts."

But now, he said, "there needs to be a powerful message to the country to energize the help," a message Mr. Bush plans to amplify, his aides say, when he visits the stricken areas, probably Friday or Saturday. Mr. Martinez noted that "the risk is that there is sometimes a big disconnect between you when you speak and when bottles of water end up in people's hands."

That may be a more complicated problem in this disaster, veterans of such operations warn, than it was after 9/11. Mr. Allbaugh noted that for all the horror of that day, the immediate damage was confined to "16 acres in New York" and part of the Pentagon, and "here you have hundreds of thousands of square miles" of misery. And the problems in the region will vary tremendously, from caring for the newly homeless in New Orleans to wiped-out ports along the coast.
We all need to hope for Bush to succeed in this. But then we all need to hope for him to succeed in Iraq. As with Iraq, there will be hyenas howling at every mistake, who will drive the rest of us crazy by seeming as though they hate Bush so much that they love when things go badly. I realize they can't really think that way — can they? — but they do drive us crazy by seeming like they do.

Here's the link to make a donation to the American Red Cross.

UPDATE: And, no, I didn't misspell "mistake" intentionally to see if I could make hyenas howl as an object lesson. I just tried to change "misstep" to "mistake" at the last minute. Sorry for the distraction!


PatCA said...

The howling has already begun! How many snide "Bush's long vacation ended" references have we heard already? Well, they're only hurting themselves, as my mother used to day.

Stephen Bundy said...


There are plenty of middle of the road and right wing persons who questioned the decision to invade Iraq and even more middle of the road and right wing persons who question the way the post war has been managed and financed. (Belgravia Dispatch, formerly championed by Glenn Reynolds, is a perfect example.) It is not Bush bashing to point out that his fiscal policy--lowering taxes primarily on the rich--has created big deficits and forced him to fight in Iraq on the cheap, with very bad consequences. Similarly, it is not Bush bashing to point out that the depletion of public resources under Bush may well have impaired our ability to respond to disasters like Katrina. I, a committed Democrat, opposed the Iraq War as inconsistent with our national interest. But now that we are in, I want Bush to succeed, and surely I want him to succeed in aiding the recovery from Katrina. But I think he has tied one hand behind his back in doing so by adopting an imprudent and unjust fiscal policy, and it is neither mindless hatred nor unpatriotic to point that out.

A final note: you seem to me to be adopting one of the bad habits of both the right and the left, which is to seize upon the worst comments of one side as typical of that side. If you gave equal time to the worst of the right, I would have more faith in your claimed centrism.

Stephen Bundy

knoxgirl said...

There was just a conversation among a couple of my co-workers that really, stuff like this happens all over the world all the time, and the U.S. doesn't care. All we care about is the gas prices. And that the "genius" in the White House will only make things worse.

Considering U.S. donations to tsunami relief--among other recent and ongoing events around the world in which the U.S. has played a critical and positive role--I can't account for it, and it's really depressing.

SteveR said...

"If you gave equal time to the worst of the right, I would have more faith in your claimed centrism."

gee when did you start reading this blog, last week?

StrangerInTheseParts said...

It's unfortunate that the extreme Left has made critizing Bush unpalletable for many nearer the center and center-right.

Bush's second term is a wonderful oportunity to really see what he is made of and what the real consequences of his leadership decisions will be. But, as many of his supporters begin to have strong doubts about his ability to lead, they cannot join with the Left in their criticism.

Just at a tactical level the shrill, hysterical, monotononous loathing of Bush has been self defeating for the Left. No one wants to agree with them (let alone work with them)even as it appears that they are kind of right.

Of course, the Right had long ago stopped presenting ideas and plans for the country to join together around. Partisanship has made concensus seem like a dirty word in this country. Is there no leader amongst us who can stake out a compelling centrist platform that invites people in from both wings of extremism?

Eric said...

I seriously doubt the howling will be quite as bad as Iraq-related howling. After all, it's not like Bush misled/lied about the hurricane.

That being said, it was an awfully long vacation, even for CEO-types.

jeff said...

Has anyone ever seen the amount of commo equipment that the President takes on "vacation?" Other than being able to see some scenery other than the Washington Monument and not having to greet the Lower Oklahoma Dairy Maid Society and such every 10 minutes, it's a classic working vacation. Okay, so he doesn't have to deal much with congresscritters either - that would be a real vacation, I'm sure.

The reality is there isn't a heck of a lot more he can do in DC that he can't do in Crawford, TX... besides have the calls he's making be local.

How many other people end up on TV that much during their vacations, after all?

Now if Pres. Bush left town with nothing but his Secret Service detachment, gave VP Cheney the football and told him, "You're in charge, see you in a month..."

That would be a vacation.

Richard Fagin said...

One of the better things about the President is that he just doesn't care who howls, particularly when it's the MSM. President Reagan was bound and determined to start a nuclear war with the Soviets, if I remember correctly the howling of 22 years ago.

PatCA said...

Eric, I'm sure Bush was still checking his email in Crawford. :)

Eddie said...

Thanks for the post. It is very easy to second guess every move of the President. As my mother always said, "you don't know what their life is like until you have walked a day in their shoes." OK, she never really said that, but I've always liked that quote. The whole incident has been chaos for us all, including the President.

As for Iraq, some will never wish the President well in our efforts there. He warned us of all the risks before we began to fight the terrorists over there.

vnjagvet said...

There are a number of Democratic talking points voiced above which could use some perspective:

Stephen says lowering taxes primarily on the rich has created big deficits and forced Bush to fight on the cheap. Not quite so. Most economists not of the Krugman persuasion believe the tax cuts stimulated the economy with a resulting net gain in tax revenues. This helped cut not raise the deficit.

Eric implies that Bush took a longer vacation than most CEOs. This is misleading. The President of the US is never really on vacation what with Air Force One and the Little White House facilities and everyone coming to him in Texas instead of in Washington. Since FDR, all presidents have taken a large portion of the summer out of Washington. Through depression, WW II, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War.

Bush has done no more and no less.

Reading history would better inform. As Casey Stengle used to say, "you can look it up".

Jim Rhoads (vnjagvet)

Freeman Hunt said...

There are plenty of middle of the road and right wing persons who questioned the decision to invade Iraq

There were also hardline leftists who were so pro-war that they switched sides over it. Like me.

lowering taxes primarily on the rich

Typing this sort of thing calls your credibility into question. Poor people got quite a tax cut.

Freeman Hunt said...

Most economists not of the Krugman persuasion believe the tax cuts stimulated the economy with a resulting net gain in tax revenues. This helped cut not raise the deficit.


Ann Althouse said...

"gee when did you start reading this blog, last week?"

Well, he hasn't been reading carefully enough to spell my name right...

Anyway, I don't try to be for or against either side. I just call them as I see them.

Let me note, that I voted for Gore in 2000 and had no love for Bush at all until 9/11. At that point, he had things he needed to do, and supporting him was an instinctive response — at least in anyone who isn't hardcore partisan (or anti-American). The current disaster also should cause ordinary people to support the President. Those who think it's a good idea to point to every shortcoming and howl are going to alienate ordinary people.

And I'm not saying we shouldn't criticize the government. We should. But there are good ways to do it and bad. I have a lot of problems with the lack of adequate planning to help poor people in New Orleans.

Ann Althouse said...

"it's not like Bush misled/lied about the hurricane.'

Oh, Eric, I'm sure he did. He's a big fat lying liar. Keep looking! And give him time.

Troy said...

Stephen Bundy... First of all you need to read Anne Althaus' blog and know she is mostly centrist (as much as that's possible).

Highlighting the worst of the right and left. Here's the roll call of the Left who make and or support looney behavior and statements: Ted Kennedy, Frank Lautenberg, Dick Durbin, John Conyers, Jimmuh Carter, Robert Byrd, Chuck Shumer, Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and lets not forget the DNC, MoveON, Michael Moore, the movie stars and musicians, et al.

Now let's look at the looney Right... David Duke -- ex-KKK -- hounded out of the Republican party and avoided like the plague. Pat Robertson -- a loudmouth preacher who used to want people to touch their TV sets to be healed!! Jerry Falwell... preacher who should know better, but sued Hustler for talking about his mommy; Tom Tancredo -- congressman representing 500K folks from Colorado.

The Left's roll call of idiocy is chock full of U.S. SENATORS and CONGRESSMEN (and women too), and EX-PRESIDENT, NY TIMES Editorialists and the (ahem) "cultural elite" who regularly say, write, and approve overtly and covertly the most asinine, scurrilous, and idiotic tripe about Bush.

The Right's roll call of lunacy is filled with a backwater (relatively -- I love CO) congressman, a racist idiot no one listens to and a couple of bass-ackward preachers.

Hmmm... not the same.

Joseph Angier said...

OK, no "pointing to every shortcoming and howling." But I don't think it hampers the relief efforts to question (loudly, if necessary) whether deliberate Bush administration policies have left us under-prepared to deal with an emergency like this? On that list I would include a painfully overextended military that's left us with inadequate manpower and equipment. These concerns were raised over and over again well before Katrina struck, and the response from officials like Rumsfeld was rudely dismissive. I really don't think that raising these questions now isn't going to damage our current mission in the Delta.

Ann Althouse said...

Joseph: I don't know who should have done what prior to this disaster, but I'm interested in hearing a proper analysis of the subject (as opposed to political opportunism). More importantly, I care about what is and isn't being done NOW. I want to see the National Guard there, in strong numbers, bringing order, and rescuing people. It's been a day of hearing about rescuers threatened and turning back. No excuses. The military should be there!

Brando said...

This is rich:

It's unfortunate that the extreme Left has made critizing Bush unpalletable for many nearer the center and center-right.

You are now blaming the "extreme left" for your unwillingness to be critical of Bush or otherwise advocate for better policies? Keep in mind, also, that it’s people on the right who drum the mantra that criticizing Bush is unpatriotic and tantamount to treason. But you’re in good company, Stranger, because Ann, the host of this blog, is obviously having cognitive dissonance over this one. (What is the “proper” way to criticize government?)

And there's this:
No one wants to agree with them (let alone work with them)even as it appears that they are kind of right.

The fact that people on the "extreme left" are appearing “kind of right” (no pun intended) is exactly why a lot of people on both sides of the aisle are starting to agree with them. Are you so afraid that people are going label you as somebody on "The Left" or “a democrat” that you are unwilling level thoughtful criticism of the government or think for yourself? Are you afraid of bullies like Troy in his previous post or Bill O'Reilly who on his show raucously asked one of his guests (a mother who lost a son in Iraq): Are you for President Bush or you're for Michael Moore?

So, stranger, I henceforth give you dispensation to fear no more and go forth and think outside of the box the rightwing establishment has given you, and not worry about whether it ends up being “Left” or “Right” or “Middle” or “Sideways.” God knows, our country needs it.

Joseph Angier said...

Also, I don't think it's ill-timed or un-American to ask about the funding cuts made by the WHite House in the Army Corps of Engineers program to repair the levees. This is still a story in need of further reporting, but I see that Andrew Sullivan has been following it.

Troy said...

I'm not afraid of bullies. The fact that Michael Moore et al. can rant the way they do without getting imprisoned or a bullet in the head is a good thing. I'm tired of a moral equivlence between sides of a political debate where one side's main "guys" sound like whack-jobs while you would never hear -- and the press wouldn't let slide the likes of trent Lott, Bob Dole, Rummy, Wolfowitz, DeLay, et al. say anything near wacky.

Am I a bully? Exactly how? Am I afraid of bullies? Show me how.

Simon Kenton said...

Ms Althouse, you're asking if the left's epicuricacy is so strong they genuinely cheer America's mistakes and disasters? Not just the president's, but ours? I'm not fully neutral - full disclosure: somewhat libertarian, though I have some trouble convincing myself my politics are either sufficiently informed or so trenchantly expressed others need to hear about them. That said, yes. For the latinists (not a few) in your commentariat, "Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem." (Occam) I look at pronouncements from the Durbins, Kennedys, Fondas, Sheehans; the simplest explanation that covers the facts is that yes, it's a Hate-America-First situation. Read through some of the commenters here, comb them. Find a positive statement, any positive statement, about the United States? I said it in a previous post; all my life I've been splitting my vote among the parties, but it's getting harder to do so.

Larry said...

Ann: I realize they can't really think that way [loving when things go badly] — can they? — but they do drive us crazy by seeming like they do.

They seem like they do because their only reaction -- a reaction so instantaneous it's more like a reflex -- to a problem of any scale is to find a way to blame Bu$h, and this Blame-Bu$h reflex manifests itself in some of the most arcane theories and thought-processes this side of paranoia. This has become a real and deepening pathology for much of the left (see the Mother Sheehan phenomenon for another example), so much so that it's no stretch at all to see such people as harboring a private (and sometimes quite open) joy over any disaster that can remotely be linked to the object of their hatred.

A separate, and entirely reasonable issue has to do with whether, or to what extent, blame and responsibility should be attached to officials at any level, and what should be done about that in the aftermath. The Bu$h-deranged simply have nothing of any worth to contribute to that.

XWL said...

It's not the George Galloways and Cindy Sheehans and Ward Churchhills of the world screaming the loudest about President Bush's supposed mistakes with regard to Hurricane Katrina, It's Sidney Blumenthal, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the NYTimes editorial page, the BBC News Service and countless others who should (and probably do) know better.

Blumenthal angers me more than the others though, his position in a nutshell is that during the entire eight years of the Clinton administration they studied the problem to death, and plopped down a nice fat document with dozens of expensive recommendations that the incoming administration was grossly incompetent for not immediately implementing.

No explanation as to why during the Clinton years only studies and no actions, no explanation that even had the Bush administration followed everything Blumenthal mentioned that the improvements would be in process and wouldn't have prevented this catastrophe.

Call me a right-wing nut if you must but this rational parallels the majority of the Clintonian reaction to the War on Terror (with the exception of Bill and Hillary themselves, who have also been silent regarding Katrina culpability). To summarize, they knew better, they offered recommendations that weren't heeded, but even though nothing actually changed or got done during their administration, everything is Bu$HHitler's fault cause he is an evil chimp who feasts on the blood of poverty striken children as he lights cigars with $100 bills.

And as far as global warming and the sham that was Kyoto, the US has reduced our emmissions since then while the signator countries have increased their emmissions, so which group is doing a better job in reacting to the problems of fossil fuel dependence?

It's long past time for a third (or fourth and fifth) party in this country, there needs to be a place where social libertarians, fiscal conservatives, and GWOT hawks can feel comfortable voting for candidates that match those views without compromise (I believe the correlation of those views would make up a plurality of U.S. voters which is why if Rudy Guiliani can clear the Republican primary he will trounce Hillary).

Brando said...

during the entire eight years of the Clinton administration they studied the problem to death, and plopped down a nice fat document with dozens of expensive recommendations that the incoming administration was grossly incompetent for not immediately implementing.

um, leroy, studying a problem is the first step to solving a problem. perhaps if bush had studied the problem of Iraq and the Middle East we woundn't be in the mess we're in there now.

perhaps if the bush administration had followed some of those fat recommendations regarding hurricane preparedness then just perhaps the after effects of Katrinta would have been less severe, better managed, and less horrific.

I don't think there is anyone in NOLA now among the horrifying circumstances that continue to unfold displaying banners saying "CLINTON: WHERE ARE YOU?"

Andrei said...

About the Hurricane Katrina disaster, we can add this to the growing list of shortcomings by the U.S. Government in response to catastrophes.

In the last 65 years...See rest here