There have been some pretty puzzling efforts to skewer the President over the last few years by the media and the left but this most recent campaign using videotape of pre-Katrina discussions (the substance if which has been widely disseminated by both the media and the left previously) is a real head scratcher.
Have they forgotten that they already used the transcripts and reports of other, similar meetings to bash the President once already for exactly the same thing?
No fair getting another bite at the rotten apple. Except, in the surreal world of hate inhabited by both the media and the left, the “news” is whatever they say it is – even if Administration discussions about Katrina preparedness have already been analyzed by dozens of bloggers and newspapers.
If this is so, why try the same thing again? The answer is simple; in their initial haste to make a political issue of the Katrina response, the media and their allies on the left forgot the number one rule of attack journalism; make sure that you can dominate the coverage.
And since their first go-around in September occurred when dead bodies were still floating in the floodwaters and tens of thousands of people were still in need of assistance, the attention of the American people was insufficiently focused on who the left was instructing them to blame.
The pre-Katrina briefing of the President by Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, was revealed within days of the disaster by Mayfield himself. I wonder why Mayfield’s calls to the homes of the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana on Saturday night – two days before the hurricane made landfall – begging them to evacuate the city of New Orleans has somehow not made it into all of these stories today?
I noticed that Mayor Nagin found the video “troubling.” He would. Running for re-election, it is probably best that people not be reminded of his briefings by Director Mayfield prior to the hurricane. Nor should they be reminded of his hesitancy in ordering a mandatory evacuation due to concerns that the city would be sued by hotels and restaurants if the hurricane wasn’t as serious as Director Mayfield had already told him it would be.
But let’s leave the disaster tag team of Blanco-Nagin out of this. What does the Washington Post have to say about this “news:”
Congressional investigators previously released transcripts of the daily meetings, and their substance and other warnings of the danger to New Orleans have been widely reported.
The fresh footage, however, was prominently aired on evening television news broadcasts and threatened to renew public scrutiny of the Bush administration, which issued a report last week containing 125 recommendations to improve U.S. disaster readiness but little focus on the action of senior presidential aides.
White House spokesman Trent Duffy said yesterday the footage showed that Bush was heavily engaged while leaving “battlefield” decisions to his commanders.
“The president had multiple conversations, phone calls and briefings both big and small throughout this process, and his whole priority was making sure that the federal assets were brought to bear to help the people of New Orleans,” Duffy said.
The New York Times adds:
The transcript offers new details but does not significantly alter the picture as it has been put together by investigators as to how officials prepared for the hurricane and responded in the first critical days.
The transcript also shows that on that day the same federal and state officials who would soon be trading recriminations were broad in praising one another’s performance.
“Threatened to renew public scrutiny” is, of course, exactly the point of this entire pointless exercise. Besides, everyone knows a picture is worth a thousand words which makes the video something the public can focus on – unlike in the immediate aftermath of the disaster when people’s attention was on the plight of their fellow citizens.
One other curious note about the video. It actually destroys one of the left’s favorite myths about the lead up to the hurricane; that the President was disengaged and more interested in lounging about his ranch on vacation than in helping the people of New Orleans. It shows Bush assuring the governments of New Orleans and Louisiana that the feds would do whatever they could to help:
“I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm,” Bush said, gesturing with both hands for emphasis on the digital recording. Neither Bush nor Hagin asked questions, however.
The fact that there were millions of tons of FEMA supplies in a vast semi-circle surrounding the city by Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the hurricane had passed the city shows at the very least that the President was making those remarks in good faith. But the additional fact that horse show impresario Brown and Blanco-Nagin failed to work together – with the somnolent Brown inescapably derelict in urging the feds to take charge – negated anything the President was saying 24 hours prior to the hurricane making landfall.
This is the biggest non-story of the year so far. And given the penchant of the left for repeating news, what do you suppose the next repeat headline will be; “No WMD Found in Iraq?” Or how about “Bush Lied, People Died?”
Interesting information from the Times article:
In the videoconference held at noon on Monday, Aug. 29, Michael D. Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, reported that he had spoken with President Bush twice in the morning and that the president was asking about reports that the levees had been breached.
But asked about the levees by Joe Hagin, the White House deputy chief of staff, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana said, “We have not breached the levee at this point in time.” She said “that could change” and noted that the floodwaters in some areas in and around New Orleans were 8 to 10 feet deep. Later that night, FEMA notified the White House that the levees had been breached.
The NOTP reports that the first levee breach occurred at around 11:00 AM at 17th and Canal Streets:
A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new “hurricane proof” Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north. The breach sent a churning sea of water from Lake Pontchartrain coursing across Lakeview and into Mid-City, Carrollton, Gentilly, City Park and neighborhoods farther south and east.
Horse Show Promoter Brown did not reach the city until around noon so the report direct from the horse’s ass (Blanco) that no levees had been breached is an interesting footnote to an otherwise redundant story.
John Aravosis has a breathless screed today entitled “New Video Shows Bush was warned levees could breach BEFORE Katrina…”
Only problem is John already reported this story once. Maybe he should read his own blog once and a while…
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Four days before Bush canceled his galavanting vacation, this hit the Weather Service wires Sunday at 5pm Eastern (you can see another version of this release here, it’s just as bad if not worse, compares Katrina to Camille, and this is from Sunday MORNING!):