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
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.
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.