Froomkin on Incompetence

From Holden:

No quarter asked or given in the WaPo today.

Diane Sawyer’s rare live interview with President Bush this morning on ABC’s Good Morning America exposed one of the president’s greatest weaknesses: He doesn’t have the answers to some of the most important questions.

[snip]

Bush smiled disarmingly and delivered plenty of assurances in his interview with Sawyer, but much of what he said was not directly responsive to what Sawyer asked. Consider:

Sawyer: “Mr. President, this morning, as we speak . . . there are people with signs saying ‘Help, come get me’. People still in the attic, waving. Nurses are phoning in saying the situation in hospitals is getting ever more dire and the nurses are getting sick because of no clean water. Some of the things they asked our correspondents to ask you is: They expected — they say to us — that the day after this hurricane that there would be a massive and visible armada of federal support. There would be boats coming in. There would be food. There would be water. It would be there within hours. They wondered: What’s taking so long?”

Bush: “Well, there’s a lot of food on its way. A lot of water on the way. And there’s a lot of boats and choppers headed that way. Boats and choppers headed that way. It just takes a while to float ’em! . . . ”

Sawyer: “But given the fact that everyone anticipated a hurricane five, a possible hurricane five hitting shore, are you satisfied with the pace at which this is arriving? And which it was planned to arrive?”

Bush: “Well, I fully understand people wanting things to have happened yesterday. I mean, I understand the anxiety of people on the ground. I can imagine — I just can’t imagine what it is like to be waving a sign saying ‘come and get me now’. So there is frustration. But I want people to know there is a lot of help coming.

“I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will.”

[snip]

About Those Levees

“I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees,” Bush said.

Wrong.

Just for starters, how about Sunday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune , which described a computer model run by the LSU Hurricane Center. “It indicated the metropolitan area was poised to see a repeat of Betsy’s flooding, or worse, with storm surge of as much as 16 feet moving up the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet and topping levees in Chalmette and eastern New Orleans, and pushing water into the 9th Ward and parts of Mid-City.”