Aides burn DVD of disaster highlights: We strongly recommed a new article in Newsweek “How Bush Blew It,” by Evan Thomas. The article offers a lot of shocking inside dope on the dawdling inside President Bush’s bubble while New Orleans was drowning after Hurricane Katrina hit.
But one particularly striking thing is the fact that the president doesn’t even watch television news – even when the nation is struck by calamity:
The reality [of the disaster] did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.
WTF?! All three cable news outlets had been live wall-to-wall with coverage of the aftermath of the hurricane since at least Monday.
This president – this incurious, deliberately uninformed aristocratic lout – couldn’t even be bothered to turn on a television and witness the destruction of an American city, not to mention the suffering of the citizens he swore an oath to protect?!
How this could be – how the president of the United States could have even less “situational awareness,” as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century – is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace.
President George W. Bush has always trusted his gut. He prides himself in ignoring the distracting chatter, the caterwauling of the media elites, the Washington political buzz machine. He has boasted that he doesn’t read the papers…
But it is not clear what President Bush does read or watch, aside from the occasional biography and an hour or two of ESPN here and there. Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him. Bush can ask tough questions, but it’s mostly a one-way street … When Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the resources to cope, couldn’t act without a declaration from the president overriding all other authority.