The president's 35-minute Air Force One flyover of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama was the perfect metaphor for his entire presidency: detached, disconnected, and disengaged. Preferring to take in America's suffering -- whether caused by the war in Iraq or Hurricane Katrina -- from a distance. In this case, 2,500 feet.Read more.
Apparently, the president "sat somberly on a couch on the left hand side of the presidential jumbo jet peering out the window" at the catastrophe below, joined at different times by White House staffers including Karl Rove and Scott McClellan.
McClellan later quoted the president as saying, "It's devastating. It's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." Ya think?? Hey, here's an idea, Mr. President: maybe you should, y'know, get off the plane and see for yourself?
Instead, he jetted on to Washington for a brisk 9-minute Rose Garden speech designed to let us know that his administration was doing everything in its power to mitigate the looming PR disaster the flooding of New Orleans could create for the White House... Uh, I mean, everything in its power to aid the recovery.
The speech contained the usual Bush bonhomie (he's "confident" New Orleans "will be back on its feet, and America will be a stronger place for it"). But the most telling moment came when the president discussed the ways his administration was moving to help ease the suffering of profit-soaked oil companies impacted by the storm, pointing out that he had instructed Energy Secretary Sam Bodman to work with refineries to "alleviate any shortage through loans" and that the EPA had waived clean air standards for gasoline and diesel fuels in all 50 states. You could almost see him getting misty...
at 9:44 PM