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Karl Rove does (Hurricane) Katrina

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  • Karl Rove does (Hurricane) Katrina

    Effing maddening story. I still know dipshits that think Bush and Brownie did a heckuva job in New Orleans and that the Katrina debacle was all the fault of the local govts down there.

    How Karl Rove played politics while people drowned

    Hurricane Katrina posed a huge test to Bush's administration. But instead of bailing out Louisiana, Karl Rove played Blame the Democrats.

    Editor's note: This excerpt is adapted and reprinted by permission from "Machiavelli's Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove," published this month by Modern Times.

    By Paul Alexander

    June 6, 2008 | On Monday, August 29, 2005, at about 6:00 a.m., Hurricane Katrina slammed into the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. A category 5 hurricane until just before landfall, it was one of the worst storms ever to hit the Gulf Coast. Kathleen Blanco, the governor of Louisiana, had been briefed extensively about what to expect when the storm hit, which was why, on the Friday night before the storm reached the coast, she signed papers declaring Louisiana to be in a state of emergency. Based on what she had been told by her advisers and what she knew from being a native Louisianan, she understood that Katrina, creeping gradually toward land with sustained winds of a strength rarely seen in a hurricane, could prove to be catastrophic for Louisiana, and particularly for New Orleans.

    Over the weekend, Blanco and her staff monitored the storm from an emergency headquarters in Baton Rouge. As the storm was hitting on Monday morning, Michael Brown, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, met with the governor and her staff. Brown had arrived in Louisiana the night before, supposedly ready to deal with the disaster. When he got to the headquarters that morning, Brown told Blanco he was prepared to help. "He showed up Monday morning," says Bob Mann, a senior aide to Blanco, "and gave us the feeling we would have everything we wanted and needed. He was nothing if not an effective bullshitter." Specifically, there was talk of FEMA buses. "Michael Brown told me he had 500 buses," Blanco says. "They were staged and ready to roll in."

    Meanwhile, as a deadly storm of historic proportions ripped into three Gulf Coast states that Monday, Bush, on a working vacation at his ranch in Crawford, stuck to his schedule for the day. He traveled to Arizona, where he gave a stay-the-course speech about the war in Iraq. He even made himself available for a photo op after the speech, posing with a guitar next to someone wearing a sombrero, seemingly unaware that the Gulf Coast of the United States was in the throes of a horrific natural disaster perhaps unparalleled in the nation's history. For a president who often seemed to care more about developments in Iraq than those at home, here was a singular moment. Never had Bush appeared to be so out of sync, at least when it came to events unfolding in the homeland. To make matters worse, in this case the disaster was not happening on the other side of the world or even the other side of the country, but in a state next door to Texas.

    On Tuesday, Bush was still out of touch with what was happening and seemingly unaware of the seriousness of the events unfolding on the Gulf Coast, especially in New Orleans. A major American city had filled up with water, but Bush had not departed from his planned schedule. In Coronado, California, at a naval base near the USS Ronald Reagan, Bush delivered a speech to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the defeat of the Japanese in World War II. But Bush used the occasion, as he had repeatedly of late, to give yet another stay-the-course speech about Iraq. On this day, he compared the ongoing military action in Iraq to the allied struggle against German fascism and Japanese imperialism in terms of its moral significance. "The terrorists of our century are making the same mistake that the followers of other totalitarian ideologies made in the last century," Bush said. "They believe that democracies are inherently weak and corrupt and can be brought to their knees." It was not terrorists who had brought three states in the American South to their knees, but an act of nature that, judging from his actions on Monday and Tuesday, had not fully engaged the attention of the president.

    As it turned out, the federal government's attempts to respond to the storm and flooding appeared frozen by inadequacy and ineptitude. Thousands of people were stranded in their homes, unable to make a better escape than to their rooftops to wave for help and hope emergency personnel in helicopters might rescue them. Tens of thousands of refugees were holed up downtown in the Convention Center and the Superdome, yet FEMA was unable to bring in even food, water, or ice, not to mention buses to evacuate them. Touring the Superdome on Tuesday night, Blanco was disturbed by what she witnessed: in short, no federal assistance whatsoever. All she saw was the Louisiana National Guard and the Louisiana State Police -- certainly not enough of a law enforcement presence to be able to maintain order without additional guardsmen and troops.

    If Bush had not seen what was taking place by Tuesday, Karl Rove had. The first evidence of Rove's involvement in the Katrina disaster occurred on Tuesday afternoon. "Rove understood what a nightmare this was for the president," Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana says, "so he went into high gear on the spin thing they're so good at in the White House. Rove had David Vitter, the Republican senator from Louisiana. I was at a press conference and David Vitter walked up to the mike and said, 'I just got off the phone with Karl Rove.' I looked at the governor and she looked at me, like, 'Why is David Vitter on the phone with Karl Rove?' I mean, he could have been talking to generals, the president himself, but Rove is just a political hatchet man."

    Despite his expertise being politics, the administration had made Rove a central player in the handling of the disaster. "A light switch in the White House didn't get turned on without going through Rove," says Adam Sharp, an aide to Landrieu. "It was clear that Rove was the point person for the White House on this disaster."

    That fact was proven precisely by what Vitter had done and said at the press conference. "As soon as Vitter said he had just gotten off the phone with Rove and other Republican officials," Landrieu says, "he started in on the first talking point to come out of the ordeal. I said to myself, 'Oh my God, I can't believe the White House has already given David Vitter talking points to talk about this.' We weren't going to blame anyone. We weren't going to blame the president. I mean, is there a Republican talking point for how to get people water? But that was Karl Rove."

    Instead of supplying relief to the city, Rove had devised a scheme whereby he could blame the failure of government to take action on someone besides Bush. "They looked around," Landrieu says, "and they found a Democratic governor and an African American Democratic mayor who had never held office before in his life before he was mayor of New Orleans -- someone they knew they could manipulate. Ray Nagin had never held public office and here he was the mayor of New Orleans and it was going underwater."

    In short, Rove was going to blame Blanco for the failure of the response in Louisiana, and to do that he was going to use Nagin. He had already set the plan in motion on Tuesday with Nagin, who, even though he was a Democrat, was so close to the Republican Party that some members of the African American community in New Orleans called him "Ray Reagan." In 2000, Nagin had actually contributed $2,000 to Bush's campaign when he ran for president.

    Rove knew of Nagin's ties to the Republican Party, so more than likely Nagin could be convinced to level his criticism at Blanco and to support Bush when he could. Here was Rove's strategy: Praise Haley Barbour, the Republican governor of Mississippi; praise Michael Brown and FEMA; blame Blanco, the Democrat. It was not a stretch for Nagin. He and Blanco so disliked each other that in Blanco's last race Nagin had endorsed her opponent.

    The rest
    Dude. Can. Fly.

  • #2
    Not surprising at all.
    Turning the other cheek is better than burying the other body.

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    • #3
      My brain just can't wrap itself around the buffoonery that was the Fed's "response" (if you can call it that) to the whole New Orleans situation. It is/was unconscionable.
      Former Sponsor of Kyle "The Comeback Kid" Lohse.

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      • #4

        Here's all you need to know.


        • #5
          All spin, all the time. Remember what it was like when this was going on? You had federal officials -- and state officials, too -- going on about how well they were responding to the crisis, and the video they showed at the exact same time showed it to be an absolute lie. Even the Fox News reporter was jumping on them about it.

          Rove was just doing what had always worked before.
          "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
          --Albert Einstein


          • #6
            Criticism of Bush on Tuesday is justified. Not on Monday, when reports from the ground were that the N.O. area dodged a major bullet. Katrina went from Cat 5 to making landfall as a Cat 3, missing a direct hit on N.O., leaving the NE quadrant of the storm (the most dangerous) to pummel Mississippi from the mouth of the Pearl River (LA-MS) state line eastward. The levies didn't break until some time later, and it was not until Tuesday that N.O. filled up like a swimming pool.

            That's the only nice thing I'll say about the federal response to the storm.

            I'll say it again: the Thursday after the storm, I went down to Gulfport-Biloxi with folks from the church. I graduated from Gulfport High School, and know the area, and was charged with traveling all over the MS Coast to help elderly and others clear their yards, provide food, clothing etc.

            The National Guard did a good job keeping folks from going S of the RR tracks that ran parallel and cut between a few blocks to a quarter mile from the beach. That area was reduced to rubble.

            The local police enforced a 6 pm curfew in response to gunshots from looters vs homeowners. They did a good job of enforcing the curfew.

            The military had a lot of helicopters running in search and rescue missions.

            The power co had 100s of trucks out restoring the power grid.

            When I arrived 9 days after the storm hit, emergency/disaster response teams from churches in NJ, NY, PA, WI, OH were already there, and had been there for about a week. Completely self sufficient, and in the parking lot of a small church, they passed out free food, clothes, provided shelter, toys, toiletries, anything anyone needed. Supplies were trucked in from private companies, churches, charities, and regular people. Two NYPD 911 survivors came. One guy from Missouri bulit a huge storage contraption on the back of his F150 and just started driving south. ALL of this happened without the government.

            The ONLY time we ever saw anything FEMA occurred the second day were there. Two dudes in blue FEMA polos showed up and told our small little city we were not qualified to engage in relief efforts. The reply: try and stop us. Later that day FEMA showed up and asked us for a lot of water.

            When America gets kicked in the balls, Americans fix the problem. You cannot look to the gubbermint to do it for you, because they suck at it.
            Former 2017 OFFICIAL SPONSOR of Braves' Fill-In Matt Adams,
            Jesus is . . .