Heckuva Job, Bush Library


The recently opened Dubya Bush mausoleum is putting the lie in lieberry. It’s not surprising that they’re offering a revisionist take on how the Bushies dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the federal flood.Former Picayuneman Bruce Nolan went to Dallas so we didn’t have to and wrote about the exhibit for the Advocate:

There was a time when George W. Bush minced no words about the
federal response to Hurricane Katrina. He called it “unacceptable.” He
fired his point man at FEMA and commissioned an internal review of the
failures. A Senate inquiry led by his own party produced a withering
critique of federal errors that began even before Katrina made landfall.
As Bush wrote in “Decision Points,” his memoir, “the legacy of fall
2005 lingered for the rest of my time in office.”

But as the
eighth anniversary of the deadly storm approaches, the newly opened
George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum reshapes the story of
Katrina, largely skimming over the federal government’s participation in
an epic disaster.

The weeklong terrors that killed nearly 1,800
people and left 40,000 marooned for days are portrayed largely as the
product of unfortunate geography and natural fury that overwhelmed local
officials, much more so than their Federal Emergency Management Agency

That’s just Nolan’s opening salvo about an exhibition he found lacking in historical accuracy:

Except for a picture of exhausted evacuees in the care of rescuers,
there are no images of the human suffering or the desperation that
marked the first days after the levees breached, shocking the nation and
the world.

No filthy Superdome. No mention of the sweaty crowd of
20,000 that waited for five days for rescue at the Ernest N. Morial
Convention Center. No reference to Michael Brown — “Brownie” — the
beleaguered director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who
resigned under duress just 10 days after Bush infamously complimented
him for doing a “heckuva job.”

Katrina without Brownie? Holy whitewash, Batman. Of course, I’m not surprised. Presidential lieberries start life as spin factories but most eventually morph into something more like genu-wine museums. I hope you’re proud of me for not making the “it’s another library for a dude who didn’t read very much” joke. Oops, I just did. Actually, LBJ read even less than Preznit Beavis but that’s another story.I’m trying to turn over a new Liev and pun less. Anyone buying it?

Nolan wrote a companion piece about Bush, Rove and their attempt to bully Gret Stet Governor Kathleen Blanco into federalizing the Louisiana National Guard. Governor Meemaw’s refusal was one of her finest moments. Her recollection of what happened, of course, differs from the story told by the Bush Lieberry:

Bush concludes that delaying the dispatch of federal troops for three
days while negotiating with Blanco was his greatest management misstep
during the Katrina crisis.

But eight years after the storm, Bush and Blanco still tell different stories about their standoff over “federalization.”

it seems central to Bush’s telling of his Katrina experience, Blanco
said in a recent interview that she regards it as an “afterthought” in
the context of that first brutal week.

And despite the prominence
he gives the story at his museum, Bush acknowledges in his memoir that
it turned out federalization wasn’t needed.

The reasons: Reports
of civil disturbance in chaotic New Orleans, though real, were wildly
overblown. And Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré, heading Bush’s active duty
troops, proved to be a forceful and skillful commander.

“Had I
known he could be so effective without the authority I assumed he
needed, I would’ve have cut off the legal debate and sent troops in
without law enforcement powers several days sooner,” Bush wrote.

The botched response to Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent federal flood severly damaged the Bush administration but it also devastated the Louisiana Democratic party and ended the career of Governor Blanco. It is largely forgotten that Blanco was a popular and effective Governor before the disaster struck. She was so adept at dealing with the lege that she was nicknamed the Queen Bee. That all came crashing down due to her public feud with Beavis and Turd Blossom and, more importantly, the disastrous Road Home program.

I’d like to thank Bruce Nolan for going to Dallas and touring the Bush Lieberry for the rest of us. I did my time in Dallas during my Katrina exile and would rather not be lied to at the lieberry about Katrina, Iraq, and the Bush record.

Helluva job, Bruce.

12 thoughts on “Heckuva Job, Bush Library

  1. When are you lib-rals gonna tell the truth? GWB marched from NOLA to the Gulf Coast. Once there, he raised his rod and the sea split in half leaving a path of dry land in the middle.
    After the storm, he sent all sorts of aid to the people of the superdome. But being poor, African Americans (fill in more despicable term here), they refused the aid saying they had rather die in the Superdome from lack of water and basic medicines. (After all, how many NOLA football fans would prefer the dome to be their place of death and burial?)
    (Wonder if I’ll get quoted in FR as a wise and thoughtful commenter even at a liberal web blog?)

  2. What now? No beautiful (?) oil portrait of Saint Barbara Bush, aka Our Lady Of Quaker Oats? I mean, with her beautiful summary of the good that came of this?
    “What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.”
    Yes, all those poor folks needed ‘just’ then…was a federal levee failure to send them on an unexpected vacation while their homes were flooded and left to moulder while they were shipped far and wide with NO way to get home to see if there was a home to come back to, or even rebuild… Yes, they needed the insurance companies to screw them out of coverage, for the Road Home program to give them a BOHICA moment… Yes, Babs – honey, you got it – YOU EFFING PRIVILEGED BINT!!!
    No, I will never get over that statement she made, especially “sort of scary…” – yeah BB, because there weren’t poor Black folks in Houston before that…nope… PUHLEASSSE! And WHO appointed you the Queen of H’town anyway?!??!?!

  3. Pansy, don’t know the full context of what you said. But I’ve got to admit a lot of similarities. We had clear, incontrovertible proof of WMDs in Iraq (oopsie!) Is our evidence better for Syria (especially as the 4th estate seems to have abandoned any sort of fact-checking or watch-dog status). I’m from a generation that suffered too much from the fabricated Gulf of Ptomken.
    We went into Iraq knowing they would throw flowers at our feet and were shocked to find that Iraq has multiple factions. If we should go into Syria (or Egypt), what actions can we take which will make things better in the long term (and I draw a strong line between what is the best for Syria versus what is best for the USA.) So far, the only options I know of have a high probability of destabilizing the country and beginning decades of internal war (dare I compare the high ideals of the French Revolution with the following decade of terror, followed by taking on a?Corsican? nobility to lead the country, and establish some of the most oppressive laws known?)
    Strategically, destabilizing Syria would open a wide door for Israel to step in.
    The bad thing is that I’m not a conspiracy theorist. But the lies of the past and the current lies on the limits on the NSA make it much easier to doubt what they say now.

  4. Oh, should have added some differences. When we went at Iraq, several predictable effects happened: Stock Markets dropped, price of oil rose, we had to get money to pay for it (which we kept off the books so as not to talk about the rapidly rising national debt), etc. Likewise, anyone who didn’t Support our President was un-American.
    I don’t remember hearing a peep about these problems under Bush.
    But with Obama just saying he is thinking about Syria, these problems are shouted from the highest mountains as crippling our economy.

  5. Elspeth, as a professional librarian, I am sickened by knowing that Mrs. Bush is a librarian. She certainly doesn’t appear to practice the core ethics of the profession.

  6. Actually, hard to say whether Laura practices or not; Barbara’s profession seems to have been political wife. But my quibble is with the claim that LBJ read less than w.
    LBJ demonstrably could read and did do so — he was a teacher in a public school before going into politics.

  7. BlacksheepOne – Well I could refer you to video of Bush reading to a group of school kids on 9/11. So he was literate to at least the?1st grade? level.
    On second thought, don’t have video of him reading. Only video was him sitting there silently.
    In all seriousness, one of the enigmas of Dubya was that thoughout a career of gov of Texas, Prez of USA… he reportedly detested reading on govt policy.

  8. @Black: Was LBJ more intelligent than W? Yes. Was he a reader? No. The Caro biographies are full of stories of how those close to Johnson tried to get him to read books. Lady Bird, John Connally and Jim Rowe all tried and failed. Johnson was rather proud of the fact that he never read a complete book after graduating from college. He couldn’t sit still long enough to read a book. I suspect he had a touch of ADD.

  9. Battleship Bar was a librarian? Shudder to think… I know Pickles was – and the tragic irony that she saddled herself with dumbya… “I read Shakespeares!”

  10. Elspeth, as far as I know, Barbra wasn’t a librarian although she has reportedly been active in promoting literacy (although apparently not in her childern /snark). Laura definitely was brought up as a librarian on many occaisions. Among librarians it is a big sticking point that we are information professionals. Laura reminds me of the sweet lady librarian who doesn’t know anything but smiles and pats the kids on their heads while Shhhshing anyone making any noise.
    On a fun note: last night spent some time thinking of things that won’t be in the Bush Library:
    Prescott Bush – Nazi, as a banker was caught in a money laundering scheme to get money to Germany despite a trade ban (wonder how much his exploits led Dubya to make sure banks weren’t regulated?), some evidence that he was involved in a plot to assassinate the president. After WWII he still served in Congress (Makes me wonder how he survived the McCarthy purges unless McCarthy had no problem with fascism).
    Barbara Bush nee Pierce is a descendant of Franklin Pierce, a prez so bad that even as sitting president his party refused to re-nominate him.

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