Our war time commander in chief is looking mighty presidential on the White House side walk speaking with ABC's Elizabeth Vargas. He discusses with Vargas, who keeps a straight face, the difference between the merely "catastrophic" and a "major catastrophic" event.
Tune in tonight to hear the president sound better than his words read:
PRESIDENT BUSH: I agree that we didn't do as good a job as we could have done on Katrina. However, I would remind people that there was a hurricane right after Katrina that hit Louisiana and Texas, and the response was much better coordinated, and the situational awareness on the ground was much improved. And so while I can't predict a hundred percent success on a catastrophic—major catastrophic event, I can say that lessons learned from Katrina were being implemented quickly. And the case I make is that hurricane that hit down there in Texas is one where the response was much better. (The hurricane that hit Texas was not a Cat 5, but a Cat 3 and did not involve the kind of devastating flood and wind damage. There is simply no comparison. Coordinated my ass. People sat on State Hwy 59 20 hours and never left the Houston area.)
Listen, here's the problem that happened in Katrina. There was no situational awareness, and that means that we weren't getting good, solid information from people who were on the ground, and we need to do a better job. One reason we weren't is because communications systems got wiped out, (really? Then why didn't you prepare for that event? You only had about a week's notice) and in many cases we were relying upon the media, who happened to have better situational awareness than the government. (Really? They could broadcast with video and microwave and y'all don't know how to do that?) And when you have the media have better situational awareness than the government, the American people are saying, "Wait a minute. What is happening? How come the Federal Government and state government and local governments couldn't do a better job of providing information necessarily so that people could react better?"
ELIZABETH VARGAS: So you don't agree with that report that calls the U.S. "woefully unprepared?"
BUSH: I think the U.S. is better prepared than woefully unprepared. There's no question we've got more work to do, and our report on Katrina outlined the work that needs to be done.
I thought, for example, the reaction to the 9/11 attack (where you counting how many seconds it took Bush to mention 9/11? That disaster was several city blocks, not an entire region of the nation. It was falling buildings that quit burning quickly and there was no flooding) was a remarkable reaction, positively. When the terrorists attacked and destroy two buildings, there were rescue teams rushing in to save lives. There was a response by the city that was a coordinated response. Katrina was one that we could have done a much better job, and we're learning the lessons from Katrina. (The good folks of Louisiana called but no one answered the phone. There local response was blocked by floods. With all due respect to New York, their first responders had dry pavement to roll on up to the site. South Louisiana was the site.) But the country has got to constantly be evaluating our capabilities and preparing for the worst.
VARGAS: When you look back on those days immediately following when Katrina struck, what moment do you think was the moment that you realized that the government was failing, especially the people of New Orleans?
BUSH: When I saw TV reporters interviewing people who were screaming for help.
(No shit.I bet people jumping out of those burning towers thought that your government failed to protect us from foreign attack. Well, probably not. But their families certainly did every time you brought up their dead loved ones to save your political ass. The situation in South Louisiana and Mississippi called and told you it was coming but you were on vacation, not listening to the Weather Channel. Oh yeah, you were on vacation when you got the memo from the National Security Agency that bin Laden was determined to strike New York or D.C. ) It looked — the scenes looked chaotic and desperate. And I realized that our government was — could have done a better job of comforting people.