Tuesday, September 06, 2005

KatrinaGate: Bush & Co. Getting Pummeled

As reported by the BBC yesterday, President Bush is finally seeing an American media that seems to have recovered its long lost spine. Ever since Bush took office five years ago, the media has treated him with kid gloves, lavishing on him the longest honeymoon in White House history. Despite political scandals, intelligence failures and an ill-conceived war, Bush has been the teflon president, slithering away unscathed where many others before have taken a beating. The reason for this is unclear, although it might be that the Bushies are terribly feared by the American press. No administration has ever been so political, so secretive and as vindictive to those it deems disloyal and who are not drunk on the proverbial Kool-Aid. And Bush never hesitated to publicly humiliate any reporter whose tough line of questioning got under his skin. But all that changed last week amid the horror and chaos of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. The gloves are officially off. The media went from standard Bush complacency mode to moral indignation in zero to sixty. What we all saw was shell-shocked outrage from journalists who became part of the story instead of merely reporting it. The catastrophic scenes of utter panic, mass death, unprecedented destruction and monumental despair in places like New Orleans and Biloxi, Miss was the stuff nightmares are made of, and assaulted journalists right down to their emotional core.

From CNN's Anderson Cooper to NBC's Tim Russert, to NPR's Robert Siegel, to even the unabashedly partisan Fox News, journalists expressed an outrage towards the Bush administration, and to state and local officials, for failing miserably in the rescue and relief effort. They're also highly critical of Bush himself, especially for his lack of leadership in the initial hours and days of the crisis. He was characteristically slow in responding, seemed bizarrely out of touch with the gravity of the situation, and was emotionally vacant. Last week Cooper, interviewing Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), bristled at her political filibustering about what Congress is doing to help: "Excuse me, Senator, I'm sorry for interrupting...because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated. And when they hear politicians slap, you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up. Do you get the anger that is out here? I mean, I know you say there's a time and a place for, kind of, you know, looking back, but this seems to be the time and the place. I mean, there are people who want answers, and there are people who want someone to stand up and say, "You know what? We should have done more. Are all the assets being brought to bear?"

On "Meet the Press" Sunday, Russert slammed Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff's attempts to duck accountability and defend the administration: "People were stunned by a comment the president of the United States made on Wednesday, Mr. Secretary. He said, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." How could the president be so wrong, be so misinformed?.....I want to stay on this because this is very important. You said you were surprised by the levee being broken. In 2002, The Times-Picayune did story after story--and this is eerie; this is what they wrote and how they predicted what was going to happen. It said, and I'll read it very carefully: "...A major hurricane could decimate the region, but flooding from even a moderate storm could kill thousands. It's just a matter of time. ... The scene's been played out for years in computer models or emergency operations simulations... New Orleans has hurricane levees that create a bowl with the bottom dipping lower than the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain. ...the levees would trap any water that gets inside-- by breach, overtopping or torrential downpour--catastrophic storm. ... The estimated 200,000 or more people left behind in an evacuation will be struggling to survive. Some will be housed at the Superdome, the designated shelter for people too sick or inform to leave the city. ...But many will simply be on their own, in homes or looking for high ground. Thousands will drown while trapped in homes or cars by rising water. Other will be washed away or crushed by debris. Survivors will end up trapped on roofs, in buildings or on high ground surrounded by water, with no means of escape and little food or fresh water, perhaps for several days." That was four years ago. And last summer FEMA, who reports to you, and the LSU Hurricane Center, and local and state officials did a simulated Hurricane Pam in which the levees broke. The levees broke, Mr. Secretary, and people--thousands drowned..."

CNN reporter Miles O'Brien also unleashed the fury on Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, repeatedly invited the governor to agree that the federal government had "dropped the ball." And CNN's Jack Cafferty, as well as usual Bush softees Shepard Smith of Fox, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough of MSNBC, and NY Times columnist David Brooks, all aggressively commented on the colossally ineffective and embarrassing government response to the tragedy. Bush has also been harshly criticized by the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NY Times and others. It's a resounding chorus of disapproval.

It's been a full week since Katrina first struck land, and there's still people needing rescue and evacuation. Further, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who estimates the city's death toll at 10,000, now reports that the flood waters are contaminated with e.coli. The task ahead is monumental, to say the least. The Bush administration will keep spinning, keep trying to place blame on Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D), and be relentless in trying to minimize the political fallout. But you can bet that in the days, weeks and months to come the focus on Bush's inept handling of the crisis will intensify, especially as Congress starts to investigate just how the greatest nation on earth could've so miserably failed to save its citizens from catastrophe. And I suspect the normally sedate media will be front and center leading the charge. Can you say, tipping point? Andy


All_I_Can_Stands said...

Step right up, get your free passes, get your free passes. Oops, not you Mr. Bush. Only everyone else gets a free pass. You are unique because we hate you so much. Here you get blame.

And all those on the left said "Sure that's credible. They will take us seriously. Won't they?"

Andy, I'm beginning to think your site is a spoof it is so unbelievable. Maybe you are actually a GOP trying to paint the left as kooks.

The Ostroy Report said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Ostroy Report said...

Well, if criticizing Bush over his inept handling of this crisis makes me a kook...then I am in good company with Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and just about every major news organization and journalist out there. I think you, Karl Rove and Condi Rice are the only people sticking to the "Bush did a great job" spin. That's ok. I feel for ya pal.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

Andy, I think a comparison between your posts and a link supplied below will show the difference between a kook and a level headed thinker. Between someone obsessed with hatred and someone interested in viewing the situation objectively. And yes, in both there is some blame for Bush. I never claimed Bush could not have done better, but this puts things into a more lucid perspective:


The Ostroy Report said...

Hey Thanks! Nice, objective article! Had I truly wanted, on my own, to find a web site that said "the President's main responsibility lies with the fact that one of the members of his administration looks to have done a poor job of managing the federal government's portion of planning and responding to this crisis" (and also goes on to place about 90% of the blame on Democratics Mayor Nagin of New Orleans and Gov. Kathleen Blanco)...I would've been lost! But thanks to you I now have this truly objective piece of journalism. You should be proud!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, there are really stupid people who will believe the spin from the White House. And, though I hate to think it, I believe the W.H. press corps will bow to the bushies when they find they aren't invited to special events at the W.H., and when McClelland doesn't call on them for questions. Oh, I hope that what I'm thinking is just B.S. and that the press will keep its spine. It was so refreshing to hear even those on Fox News get angry at the posturing of politicians and pundits.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

I've got to hand it to you, you stay on the bash Bush theme very well. No facts get in your way of a good Bush bash. Your "Objective" posts still blame Bush 100%. The article I pointed to is objective in that it at least fairly spreads the 100% across multiple entities. You can claim non-objectivity in the actual percentages, but at least the article has both eyes open - not just one eye on Bush.

The lesson of this is that no beurocratic government agency can be trusted with your life, health or wealth. The individual should take these lessons and never place their faith in a government agency.

Anonymous said...

Andy, why do you continue to debate Popeye? He is what he is and that's all that he is. A Bush Muncher. Please use the time you spend answering his partisan phlegm blogging MORE. We need your voice, yo.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

Anonymous, because Andy like a moth to the porch light is so attracted to the truth. Ok, just having fun with you guys.

I would however appreciate a few points on how this blog is objective and non-partisan. That is a tough stretch for my feeble mind. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Dude, with all due respect...
The description of the blog, right under THE OSTROY REPORT, at the top, is
"The Ostroy Report is a fresh, aggressive answer to the powerful Right Wing spin machine. We take on Bush, the Republican Party and the conservative media. Our mission is to help Democrats regain the White House and Congress."

I think the only person pretending to be non-partisan here is, well, you.

Does the author back up his points with actual facts? Always. That's what makes this blog special. And possibly why it gets so under your skin.

The Ostroy Report said...

Anonymous, you da' man, as they say. Thanks for pointing out my Blog description. Seemed like an obvious thing, but I guess not.

As for your question, call me crazy, but I still believe there's hope for guys like All I Can Stand. I guess that's the fundamental difference between us liberals and Republicans: we're always trying to help those less fortunate.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

Anon and Andy, Of course I knew you were partisan hacks. I was addressing Anon. reference to my "partisan phlegm" as if there was none here.

As for the comment on helping the less fortunate, this is laughable. Libs may give out fish, but a true caring conservative will teach the person how to fish. Creating a dependency is not help. Helping the individual to independently self-sustain is the best help one can do for their fellow man.

I never claimed to be non-partisan. I do claim to be objective and my posts reflect that. The posts here don't even pretend to be objective, yet other viewpoints are branded as not being objective. I was pointing out that your comment of the link I sent being non-objective was highly hypocritical. But hey, it's a free country, you are allowed to be hypocritical.

And don't flatter yourselves. Your fact-challenged posts don't get under my skin. I come here for entertainment. I'll try hard to leave you guys alone for awhile. Don't want to slow down Andy's posting. When you finish a few maybe I'll come back.