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Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
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Bush Insiders Call Katrina 'Nail in the Coffin'

POSTED: 12:41 PM ET, 12/30/2008 by Derek Kravitz

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,800, leaving New Orleans a shell of its former self.

Now two former advisers to President Bush are saying the deadly hurricane also derailed Bush's presidency, according to Vanity Fair's "oral history" of Bush's perceived missteps.

Dan Bartlett, White House communications director and later counselor to the president, said: "Politically, it was the final nail in the coffin."

Bartlett, once a trusted Bush adviser, has spoken out in recent years against some administration policies. A year after the hurricane, he told The Post that it "was a setback at the time, but it was recoverable." Apparently that didn't happen. As Bartlett said in a recent interview with Texas Monthly: "Katrina. It's enough to make your hair turn gray."

In his book on Vice President Dick Cheney, "Angler," The Post's Barton Gellman writes that Bartlett had supported the idea of having the vice president run the post-Katrina response and was initially frustrated by Cheney's refusal to take on the task.

"It would send a powerful signal of our level of concern" to put the vice president in charge, Bartlett said. Eventually, though, Bartlett came to see Cheney's demurral "quite frankly as pretty good judgment." Cheney "doesn't do touchy-feely," Bartlett said, "Understanding what people's problems are and showing compassion -- that is an important part of the job of being the representative of he president... He was not going to go down there and hug babies."

Matthew Dowd, Bush's pollster and chief strategist for the 2004 presidential campaign, also told Vanity Fair that Katrina was the "tipping point," saying that the hurricane caused the president to break "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. I knew when Katrina--I was like, man, you know, this is it, man. We're done.

Dowd has spoken out against Bush before, lambasting the president in April 2007 and saying he was personally disappointed by Bush's leadership, or lack thereof.

Meanwhile, Michael Brown, the former Federal Emergency Management director nicknamed "Brownie" by the president, told the magazine he accepts partial blame for the weak government response, for "sticking to those political talking points about how we're working as a team." But Brown also criticized Homeland Security Department Secretary Michael Chertoff for creating a hard-to-navigate bureaucracy.

I should have basically told Chertoff to kiss off, that I would continue to deal directly with the president. But he's the new kid on the block and the White House deferred to him, and it gave me no choice but to work through him, which then scoped things down and caused it to just completely implode on itself.

By Derek Kravitz |  December 30, 2008; 12:41 PM ET
Previous: Ex-NYC Top Cop Pleads Not Guilty | Next: Blagojevich Has History With Senate Choice


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Oh please! The Bush presidency started to slide in early 003 with what was then, at best, a dubiously justified invasion of Iraq. The administration was given a short chance to demonstrate that it knew what it was doing but, by the end of 2003, the cat was out of the bag. Katrina brought around what was left of those who were willing to see the truth.

The shame of it is that there are still 20% or so of Americans who still think this buffoon is anything more than incompetent.

Katrina did place in plain relief Bush' exceptionally poor choice of employees however. Hopefully, Obama's choices will be significantly better.

Posted by: turnbulld | December 30, 2008 1:58 PM

At least we can grateful Cheney wasn't dispatched to New Orleans to further traumatize the locals. It’s hard to imagine the response to Katrina being any worse but the specter of Cheney devouring children would have crossed that threshold.

Posted by: visigothic | December 30, 2008 2:07 PM

Heavens, no. Bush's approval ratings were already at or below 50% when Katrina hit.

I would rank Katrina #4 on the list, starting with Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, then Katrina.

Posted by: cab91 | December 30, 2008 2:15 PM

My government broke my heart. I am a New Orleanian and my 80 year old mother lives a block from the beach in Pass Christian, MS. I watched heroism and suffering for YEARS while this government did nothing but blame everyone but themselves. I was always one of those people that teared up when the Star Spangled Banner played. I reached a point 6 months after the storm when I felt nothing but anger when I heard it. I had to remind myself that the present administration was not what this country is about. I forcefully would think of the founding fathers to calm the anger. To this day I do not feel like an American. I am a New Orleanian. One day I would like to feel the way I use to about my own country. The healing cannot begin until George Bush (a man I voted and believed in) and his hateful cronies are gone from the national scene. That is the best I can hope for. They belong in jail for the murder of thousands and the suffering of millions of Americans, but justice is not a part of what America stands for anymore.

Posted by: doctorj2u | December 30, 2008 7:12 PM

The sad thing is that George Walker Bush has never been successful in life at anything he has ever done. He tried the oil business and every oil company that he ran, he ended running them into the ground as he didn't have a clue about running any business.

And having brother Jeb Bush then Governor of Florida helping him steal the election in 2000 from Al Gore by screwing 57,000 Afro American from voting and also other voting scams is the only reason the moron got elected.

George Walker Bush was never qualified to be President in the first place as he never had any expertise of any kind to be qualified for the position.
It is as well disgraceful how the coward who's daddy got him into the Texas Air National Guard twelve days prior to being drafted and having to serve in Vietnam. It is also disgraceful how he dressed up to land on the aircraft carrier in 2003 after the fall of Iraq as if he was some sort of hero though he was AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard for his last year of service.
It is also disgraceful how he sat and ate birthday cake with John McCain while people were dying during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

It is also disgraceful how he knowingly lied the United States into a War with Iraq with his Administration when they knew Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.

It is disgraceful how he lied 3 months after 9/11 that he said he saw the first plane hit the Twin Towers from outside the school house in Florida. The first plane was never televised when it hit the Twin Towers.

It is disgraceful how he lies on a daily basis and really has no concern for anyone but himself.

It is disgraceful that he will step down January 20, 2009 without having being charged as the War Criminal that he is along with VP Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the rest of the scum from the Bush Administration who belong to the PNAC.

There will be a judgment day for George Walker Bush and that will be upon his death as God will not allow him into the kingdom of Heaven for his lies and sins of this earth. George Walker Bush's soul has belonged to Satan for most of his life so enjoy the anals of Hades George Walker Bush.

Posted by: george33 | December 31, 2008 6:13 AM

Let's no kid ourseleves. This started with that Coward Mayor Ray Negin and spilled over to the money grabbin folks througout the city of New Orleans and the state. Notice once a competent governor was in place the Hurricane evacuations and help were not an issue. What will you folks do and who will you blame for your troubles once Bush is gone? How long will the media give their messiah a break once he ascends to the White House?

Posted by: rbrtsnode | December 31, 2008 8:45 AM

Mayor Nagin was still mayor for that wonderful evacuation for Gustav. What you saw was learning from past experiences. It was a joint exercise of all 3 levels of government, what it should have been the last time. They still screwed it up on the re-entry process though.

Posted by: doctorj2u | December 31, 2008 2:38 PM

Katrina was definitely the tipping point that led to the public loss of support for George W. Bush. It demonstrated clearly the incompetence of the his administration. The standard Rove-Cheney approach to dealing with the consequences of incompetence was: deny, lie, attack. Unfortunately for George W. Bush, at the time Katrina struck, his principal political advisor, Karl Rove, was in seclusion, distracted by legal problems arising from his false testimony provided during the Valerie Plame investigation. (Interestingly, the Special Counsel giving Rove heartburn is the same US Attorney who nailed Illinois Governor Blagojevich -- Patrick Fitzgerald.) For his part, Cheney wanted nothing to do with Katrina. So Mr. Bush had no counsel from his chief advisors. He was on his own -- a scary prospect both for him and the nation. Even if Rove and Cheney had launched their standard deny-lie-attack strategy, it would not have worked in the case of Katrina. While this strategy enabled them to portray John McCain, John Kerry, Ambassador Joseph Wilson and many others (Republicans and Democrats alike) as untrustworthy schnooks, it would not work when dealing with a catastrophic Act of God. Katrina reminds us of the Hans Christian Anderson story of the Kings New Clothes. After Katrina, even staunch Bush supporters saw the king was naked.

Posted by: LobsterShrimp | January 1, 2009 8:26 AM

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