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September 03, 2005

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How can we get Bush out and someone better in? He is clearly not capable of handling the enormity of the task ahead of him. Eventually we'll get the people out of New Orleans, but that's just the first step in a process that will take the rest of his term and beyond, namely the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast. The refugee crisis alone is a problem with more dimensions than he is capable of handling. We simply can't afford three more years of this. But a Republican Congress will never impeach. A Democratic Congress might, but I don't think we can last long enough to wait for that either.

WaPo August 1, 2005 By Al Kamen - In the Loop:

Michael D. Brown ... sent around a memo a couple of weeks ago saying "effective immediately," his chief of staff, Patrick Rhode, was the acting deputy director.

This caused some head-scratching, because there is no official deputy director position ... The last person to hold such a post was Brown, before FEMA got folded into DHS. (Brown is now officially DHS undersecretary for emergency preparedness and response.) ... Brown is widely expected to be leaving soon ...

I'll say.

What people won't see unless we have a decent press core and some good lawyers involved is the land grab of NOLA that is to come.... I really think someone needs to start working on legally enforcing the rights of those dislocated from their homes, pronto.

Someone posted a diary at Kos saying that NORTHCOM, who was in charge of the relief effort, had prepositioned supplies and was ready to go, but was n waiting for the go-ahead from Bush. The military can't just go in willy-nilly, they have to be ordered to do so. Similarly, there is evidence that requrests for help and offers of aid from other Governors were not acted on.

Monday and Tuesday, Bush was traveling, and didn't get back to DC until Wednesday night. Cheney was AWOL. Condi was buying shoes and playing tennis. Chertoff had never dealt with anything remotely like this, nor had Brown, and Rumsfeld has already demonstrated his incompetence in dealing with large-scale efforts. The one other person no one talks about is Andy Card, the Pres's chief of staff. Where was he?

It really does seem that no one was in charge, no one knew what was going on, no one knew what the steps were that needed to be taken to make things happen. A really appalling dereliction of duty. Not only that, amazingly enough none of them seem to have considered TV as a source of news.

More on this and Emptywheel's post.

Remember what the scenario was with Nixon. First Agnew had to resign as VP. That happened in October, 1973. Then Nixon picked Ford to be his new VP. When Nixon resigned in August, 1974, Ford became Pres. Ford picked Rockefeller, who was confirmed by the Senate, if I'm not mistaken. Some say that when Ford became Nixon's successor, many politicians' reluctance to remove Nixon evaporated.

If Cheney really is very sick, Hastert just killed his chances to do a Gerald Ford with his tasteless remark about New Orleans. Ford was pretty well liked, even if he was kind of a dim bulb, and people trusted him. Things are so polarized now it is hard to imagine how we could repeat that scenario, or something close to it. Anyone who would remotely be a kind of consensus person, like the sainted Rudi, or John McCain, or even Chuch Hagel, is hated by the Dobsonites.

Something to think about. This is a lot more serious than 9/11, and also a lot more serious than the Clinton impeachment.

Andy Card, the Pres's chief of staff. Where was he?

Maine, on vacation.

More Times Bush-in-trouble stories:

The silence of many prominent Democrats in publicly criticizing Mr. Bush for his handling of the crisis reflects their conclusion that the president is on treacherous political ground and that attacking him would permit the White House to dismiss the criticism as partisan politics-as-usual, a senior Democratic aide said.

And check out Roy Blunt at the end.

...none of them seem to have considered TV as a source of news.

So, they don't read newspapers, read reports from specialists inside their own administration OR watch TV?

So... if this does turn into a major political problem for Bush, how will he respond? I know it's distasteful to think about this disaster in political terms, but it just crossed my mind. I don't see any obvious way to blame this on the Democrats. Blaming the blacks for not evacuating because they're poor, lazy, dependent, etc., might appeal to Bush's base, but would be dynamite if it didn't stay under the radar. So I'm guessing Bush will blame Katrina, portraying it as an unprecedented disaster that would have overwhelmed any possible response--a lot like 9/11.

YK:

One thing Bush has been totally on-message about is always calling Katrina a natural disaster, every time he mentions it. Emphasis on natural.

I do think Bush will portray this as an act of God. Nope, nothing to do with his continued unwillingness to join Kyoto or raise CAFE standards. Just God, bringing down his wrath on the poor and elderly.

I know it's distasteful to think about this disaster in political terms...

Bush, Rove, et al think of it in political terms, along with everything else. It's actually not distasteful at all, AFAIC, to think of this in political terms. Anything which makes this awful 'Administration' and government wear lead political boots is good. The executive may still execute, but if the admin. and congress can't pass their heinous legislation, that's very good for the country. It's patriotic to slow them down. This is absolutely not the same thing as saying that 'Katrina is a good thing'. Of course it's not. But here's the rub: Katrina was caused by 'mother nature', not evildoers. Not even this bunch of carneys can imply that their political enemies are 'sympathetic' to a hurricane.

The one thing Dubya has been really good at in his entire life is being a political operative. He's pretty good at PR, a good campaigner (especially in front of hand-picked crowds). But he's really good at hard ass politics. People give too much credit to Rove sometimes. He and Bush are a team, much greater than the sum of their parts. Anyway, as President, that's what he is, still. Any good pol is good at being that to some extent, but Bush thinks that's the whole job. He's not an administrator or executive, not really. If you've ever worked for any reasonable length of time in a corporate/bureaucratic environment, you know the type: connected enough, and savvy enough, to get the job, but clueless as per actually doing the job.

'Liberals' clearly didn't cause Katrina (other than the Sodomites, of course). I have no problem thinking of this disaster in political terms. We should think of it that way. Cheney's death or resignation aside, it's really a duty to slow these fucking people down. I want to say they are a slow-moving disaster, but they're really a medium-moving disaster. It's that bad. And, while I understand the tactical wisdom of the Dems staying out of the way and letting the GOP hang itself, there's going to have to be some leadership one of these days. There's no getting around that. I thought what John Edwards had to say was pretty good in that dept.

And of course God smote whoever it was who wanted to keep funding FEMA, and the Army Corps of Engineers' levee-reinforcement program, and...

The latest spin among the apologists seems to be "see? can't depend on gummint" -- I saw variations on the theme a few times today, and it sent my eyeballs spinning in their sockets. Do these people have NO shame? I mean, truly -- this is almost exactly analogous to the guy who murders his parents and then pleads for mercy because he's an orphan.

Thanks for the link to Edwards' post, jonnybutter. And I so agree with your main point: a principled fight against a dangerous adversary isn't game-playing politics (the Bush/Rove special), it's substantive politics, the thing we do together to create conditions that allow people to improve their lives. And it's sure as hell substantive politics to do whatever you can to neutralize a menace threatening your country; that's what we face in Bushco. I see no reason to have any qualms about using this moment for that purpose. ('Course, I'm just a dang librul hurricane sympathizer...)

'Course, I'm just a dang librul hurricane sympathizer...)

Yes, indeed you are. I can't project this onto you strongly enough: you liberals are weak, feckless, incompetent, lying and unpatriotic. You revel in hurricanes and stuff like them.

The latest spin among the apologists seems to be "see? can't depend on gummint"... this is almost exactly analogous to the guy who murders his parents and then pleads for mercy because he's an orphan.

Yes, O'Reilly ('Oh really? No, O'Reilly') lead with that last night. Even my Bush supportin' liberal hatin' 'fuck you boys' buddy laughed at that one.

I do think Bush will portray this as an act of God. Nope, nothing to do with his continued unwillingness to join Kyoto or raise CAFE standards. Just God, bringing down his wrath on the poor and elderly.
But that by itself won't excuse FEMA for having screwed up so badly. The only possible defense is to claim that Katrina was an order of magnitude worse than anything we had seen before, so that even the best preparation could not have averted a catastrophe. And then everyone is left trying to second-guess what FEMA could have done better, and whether it would have worked. I worry that we'll have a hard time pinning down who was responsible for FEMA's failure, just like we never fully understood the intelligence failures the led to the Iraq war.

So, can the Dems project themselves as being able to do a better job? That is the question, not one easily answered in the affirmative.

The only possible defense is to claim that Katrina was an order of magnitude worse than anything we had seen before, so that even the best preparation could not have averted a catastrophe.

That is exactly the defense, the talking point, that is emerging. And it's the same as with the Iraq war: it was bound to be fucked up; wars always are! (The 'Can't Do' America Krugman correctly identifies.) But that defense doesn't work forever. If Iraq was bound to be a disaster, then...why did we invade? And keep in mind that America is a deeply dysfunctinal country. Bush will be punished politically ostensibly for Katrina, but the anger is for his previous sins as much as the current ones. This is politics, not beanbag (as Mr Dooley famously said). We're going to have to stop being so literal and so 'reasonable'. The Republicans win because they know we're earnest, reality-based chumps. The factual record on this government is absurdly, redundantly, abundantly clear already: these people are a disaster. Enough.

YK, I share your concern that any inquiry here will go the way of the intel investigations, up to a point. But on FEMA there's a stunningly clear public record of an agency that was universally considered a model of effectiveness being dismembered, emasculated and put in the control of hacks; Clinton's FEMA also offers plenty of specific examples of preparation before and performance after a disaster that make for a vivid contrast with Bush's FEMA. I don't underestimate their smoke-blowing prowess, but I really think this is very nearly -- what's the expression? -- a slam-dunk. That said, I still hold my breath, of course -- and we've got some distractions coming up this week...

So, can the Dems project themselves as being able to do a better job? That is the question, not one easily answered in the affirmative.

It is, in fact, easily answered in the affirmative. Democrats care about stuff like this. It's not their fricking ideology to slough it off, at the least. Of course RJ is correct about Clinton's FEMA vs either Bush's. The difference isn't that Dems can solve all problems and the GOP can't, it's that Dems - like Clinton - try their best. Does the Bush admin. try his best? Not easilly answered in the affirmative.

jonnyb, I was just about to write almost exactly that. It's absurdly, redundantly, abundantly clear that government works best when the people in charge actually believe in government...Tho' I might differ on one point: I think the Bush admin DOES try its best; it's just that its efforts are a) not generally inspired by concern for the public welfare; and b) mind-bogglingly incompetent.

I think the Bush admin DOES try its best

Yeah..I think it's an academic question. You don't do your personal best when - as you point out - you don't believe in the mission. I frankly think they don't like cities. I posted about that yesterday, if you're interested.

Really nice post, jb -- I was actually being semi-snarky about the effort thing, but I've had the same thought about these guys and cities, though I hadn't focused on the suburb/exurb experience -- I think you're right, that's a qualitatively different environment, sanitized and controlled in a way that's impossible in either city or country. (I like your take on Jefferson, too...)

Okay now, east-coast city dweller getting incoherent -- now I'm going to dream all night that every restaurant in NY has been turned into an Applebee's...

...what a nightmare...

Clinton and Blanco hired Witt, janinsanfran (answer to "can Dems do better?"). All a Dem has to to do is promise to hire a professional with experience.

Good points, all.

Thanks RJ (and DemFromCt).

now I'm going to dream all night that every restaurant in NY has been turned into an Applebee's...

Well, if we could just get a nice general disaster - like a flood - in Manhattan, we could get that done...you know, clear out the riff raff once and for all.

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