George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.
Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.
BUSH [Rich Lowry ] E-mail from a plugged-in observer:
This is an EXTREMELY disappointing speech. Doesn't he realize that more people may have died from this storm than died on September 11? I don't expect him to say he's gonna get Katrina "dead or alive" for what she's done to America. But for crying out loud, can he put off the laundry list of all the things his wonderful bureaucracy has done so far until the end of the speech and begin by addressing the pain we all feel as this tragedy is unfolding in slow-motion on live TV? We're talking death on a massive scale, and within 2 minutes he's thanking Texas for housing refugees (way to perpetuate that "I'm all about Texas" stereotype).
And don't get me started about how the first image of Bush coming back to Washington as thousands have died in a tragedy was him walking down the stairs of Air Force One with Barney tucked under his arm...
I love President Bush, but that was a pathetic performance and I agree with what Byron wrote about his vacation. And I'm with you: Bring in the troops. Lead! Don't tell me that the federal government will be working "with" state and local governments. Has he watched how incompetent Blanco is?
Posted at 05:34 PM
NOBODY'S A BIGGER BUSH CHEERLEADER THAN I... [JPod]
...but everybody on the Right better wise up and fast. Bush blew this first one big time, and needs to be prodded to improve, not apologized for. Don't defend him just because you know liberals are going to attack, and don't come up with bizarro theories about how he's a man of action not reflection etc. etc. He emoted plenty around 9/11. Look, it's not too much to say that the continued viability of his presidency resides in how he and the administration respond in the next week.