As I watched Bush’s press conference last week in California I was focused on Bush’sswipe at Governor Blanco and missed how moments later he referred to General Blum, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, as “General Tuck.” Reading Holden later, whodidn’t miss it, I was shocked. Does the President really not know who General Blum is? Was this just another of his mis-speaks? Or something else? I’m sure we’ll never know but I offer this for your consideration.
Here is thefull context of what Bush said:
And our National Guard personnel is providing very
important assistance. It turns out when the President shows up, so does a
lot of the other brass. I’m proud to be here with General Tuck*, who runs
the entire National Guard bureau.
That doesn’t read as very flattering really. Transcripts can be deceiving so I watched thevideo as perhaps Bush spoke the words with warmth. It didn’t appear such to me.
Given Bush’s history of mis-speaks it’s highly likely he just got the name wrong. But it is hard to believe Bush did not know General Blum. During ahearing of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves General Blum reported…
in Hurricane Katrina I met with the chairman, the vice chairman, the deputy, the secretary of Defense, and even on occasions
the president of the United States during that time
And Blum was not just another man in uniform at a Bush photo op. He played a significant role in the Bush/Blanco standoff regarding the federalization of the National Guard.(NG)
For background…Documents from Blanco and her aides show a major element of the Bush team to push back against the negative publicity regarding the federal Katrina response was to blame the Democratic governor and vindicate or at least limit damage to Bush vis a vis the federalization of the NG. The Bush team wanted to federalize the NG as part of their attempt at push back. It would make the President“look decisive” and also would have come at a time when things were starting to improve in New Orleans. Bush would look like the leader of the cavalry come to the rescue now that the inept and hindering governor was out of the way. That was the plan at least.Blum tucked that up…
The next day, on a Bush visit, administration officials ganged up on
Blanco out of the presence of staff members and tried to bully her into
changing her mind, they said. Blanco requested 24 hours.
notes report that on the night of Sept. 1, Army Lt. Gen. H. Steven
Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, advised Blanco, as an aide
put it, “You don’t want to do that. You lose control, and you don’t get
one more boot on the ground.”
Later, Blum told Ryder he came
“under political duress” for his opinion and used military slang to
describe an out-of-control situation, according to Ryder’s notes.
It would seem Blum’s actions placed him on the Bush administration radar.
Blum has also not fallen in line with the administration on other matters. First there is the provision in last year’s defense authorization act called the“Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies” which alters the Insurrection Act and“expanded the president’s power to invoke martial law” seemingly to give“the federal government a far stronger hand in coordinating responses to Katrina-like disasters.”
General Blum testified such a changewould not have helped in Katrina: