Monday, September 12, 2005

Magic Bullets & Big Whoppers




Yesterday, September 12, the President did what all razor-sharp 3rd graders do when caught telling an unmitigated whopper -- offer up an even bigger whooper to in a desperate attempt to cover the first one, usually eliciting a hearty chuckle from the adults in earshot.

Consider the first whopper, here in all its glory and context, three days after Katrina hit:

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."


The comment received widespread, legitimate derision. It bespoke of the President's generally disengaged posture and attitude. The comment was part of the continuing narrative that he is an unabashed "save-ass" -- nothing, nothing is ever his fault. The self-described CEO President did what the worst American CEOs have done, and get away with: pass the buck, lying through their privileged teeth in the process while retaining their golden parachutes and outrageous bonuses. Bush learned well as exemplified by his ├╝berpatron "Kenny-Boy" Lay of the Enron debacle.

But absolutely no one bought Bush's most recent lie. It was so blatant, so over-the-top, even by the subterranean standards of national politics, the lie was unforgivable. People were dead because of the failure of the levees which had been foreseen for years. News that the Army Corps of Engineers concluded that even if Bush budget cuts hadn't been made and the levees had been strengthened, they still would not have provided a guarantee of protection from storm surge and intense winds, yielded lousy political cover, as the pictures of the disaster were a mainstay for over a week. The lie and the floating bodies remained. And they constituted a big part of the stench of a presidency that is increasingly seen as a failure in the wake of his lies about Social Security and his more consequential lies about how well everything is going in Iraq.

So the lie had to be covered-up. And so when the President faced the press Monday morning he did his dance:

THE PRESIDENT:...And so when I come into a briefing, I don't tell them what to do. They tell me the facts on the ground, and my question to them is, do you have what you need.

Q Did they misinform you when you said that no one anticipated the breach of the levees?

THE PRESIDENT: No, what I was referring to is this. When that storm came by, a lot of people said we dodged a bullet. When that storm came through at first, people said, whew. There was a sense of relaxation, and that's what I was referring to. And I, myself, thought we had dodged a bullet. You know why? Because I was listening to people, probably over the airways, say, the bullet has been dodged. And that was what I was referring to.Of course, there were plans in case the levee had been breached. There was a sense of relaxation in the moment, a critical moment. And thank you for giving me a chance to clarify that."

New Orleans natives in a state of relaxation Monday, August 29th

But that can't be what he was "referring to." Again, his earlier lie: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. "

So, "they" anticipated a storm. That, of course, meant that they thought a storm was coming. BEFORE the storm hit, experts thought Katrina would hit New Orleans. When he says that he meant, that nobody "anticipated the breach of the levees", he, of course, meant those same experts during the same moment in time -- BEFORE the storm hit. But now he wants us to believe he meant no one anticipated the breach AFTER landfall, after the levees had successfully dodged the magic category 4 bullet. And he wants us to believe that everyone was breathing a collective sigh of relief right after landfall, that the worst has passed. Citations Mr. President? Where are the tapes of meteorolgists broadcasting "all is well" over the "airways" in the hours right after landfall?

We all know better. For a lie to work, at the very least, it has to describe the possible. And the cover-up lie demands we believe the impossible.

We all became meteorological experts as we were glued to Katrina's progress. We learned that the moment which the most vulnerable levees would be under the greatest stress would indeed be AFTER landfall. It would be as Katrina moved slightly to the north and to the east of Lake Ponchetrain. It would be when Katrina's category 4 winds would be slamming water and wind into the lake levees in a 12 o'clock to 9 o'clock, counterclockwise, north-to-south motion. And that is indeed when they failed.

But now the President wants the American people to believe that his comment was referring to the brief moment in time AFTER the storm hit yet still BEFORE the levees failed. And while we can concede that there indeed was a moment that did indeed exist AFTER landfall and yet BEFORE the failure of the levees, there was no discernible moment in the timeline that had people breathing the sigh of relief he now attempts to insinuate to cover his own pathetic and culpable ass.

The President wants us to believe that he was quite attuned to the situation, as he kept abreast of the latest developments listening to the "airways." When was he listening? Who could have been telling him what?

Consider the President's schedule during the fateful day:

"President Bush hits the road to promote prescription-drug plan. His first stop is Arizona, where he eats birthday cake with Senator John McCain and talks to senior citizens in Phoenix at a golf resort. In late afternoon, there are early reports of broken levees. The National Weather Service reported that a levee broke on the Industrial Canal near the St. Bernard-Orleans parish line. President Bush travels to Southern California to talk to more seniors about changes to Medicare. He also plays golf. He spends the evening in San Diego to prepare for a Tuesday speech commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War Two."

The first levees actually failed BEFORE NOON on Monday though the news might not have been on the "airways" yet - but one might expect that the President might be better informed than those who only rely on mere "airways". Did the President interrupt his schedule, did he do anything to reflect that the long-predicted apocalypse had occurred? No. He played golf.

And then he lied three days later to Diane Sawyer about what was "expected" to provide cover and political absolution for his insularity during the crucial early hours, and for his now-unseemly budget cuts of the vital levees. Two weeks later, after the political shitstorm of the 21st century, he lied about the lie.

And he kept on lying....

Q Mr. President, where were you when you realized the severity of the storm?

THE PRESIDENT: I was -- I knew that a big storm was coming on Monday, so I spoke to the country on Monday* morning about it. I said, there's a big storm coming. I had pre-signed emergency declarations in anticipation of a big storm coming.

Q Mr. President --

THE PRESIDENT: -- which is, by the way, extraordinary. Most emergencies the President signs after the storm has hit. It's a rare occasion for the President to anticipate the severity of a storm and sign the documentation prior to the storm hitting. So, in other words, we anticipated a serious storm coming. But as the man's question said, basically implied, wasn't there a moment where everybody said, well, gosh, we dodged the bullet, and yet the bullet hadn't been dodged."

So, we get the "dodge the bullet" lie repeated as if that would enhance that insane statement's credibility. But most outrageous insult to our collective intelligence and patience is delivered as the President chides us about not being appreciative enough of his stellar management.

We, the mere peons of the American electorate, are to be in awe of the man's prescience, a character trait of which he is so clearly bereft: "It's a rare occasion for the President to anticipate the severity of a storm and sign the documentation prior to the storm hitting."

What's rare is a President to have the gall to demand we kiss his ass after such a colossal fuck-up.

The contempt this President has for his fellow Americans is gross, historic, and irredeemable.