You are herecontent / Week of chaos leaves administration reeling

Week of chaos leaves administration reeling

Week of chaos leaves administration reeling
By Todd S. Purdum / New York Times News Service
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

President Bush waves after delivering his weekly radio address from the Rose Garden of the White House Saturday in Washington. In a rare live radio address, Bush, seeking to stem criticism that a slow federal response has contributed to needless misery, said he is ordering additional active duty forces to the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast region.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

WASHINGTON -- Perhaps not since Richard M. Nixon faced Vietnam-era tumult abroad and at home has an American president had to meet quite the combination of foreign war, domestic tribulations and political division that President Bush now confronts, from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf Coast to Capitol Hill.

"This is a storm of enormous magnitude," Bush told relief workers at the disaster operations center of the Red Cross here on Sunday morning. He was referring to Hurricane Katrina, of course, but his words could also apply to the enduring insurgency in Iraq and the looming battles over the first double vacancy on the Supreme Court since Nixon nominated William H. Rehnquist to the Supreme Court 34 years ago.

Each challenge is unique, but they are all interrelated. The chaos in New Orleans may have bumped bad news from Baghdad off the front pages for a few days, but only in favor of equally grim images from the home front and pointed questions about whether a National Guard sapped by repeated tours of active duty on foreign soil was as prepared as possible for a disaster here.

The war, high gasoline prices and persistent, low-grade unease that good economic statistics have not left more Americans feeling secure had already taken a toll on Bush's job approval ratings. The wave of bipartisan criticism of his administration's handling of the hurricane may well constrict his options as he seeks a successor for Rehnquist. His presidency might not be on the level of peril faced by Lyndon B. Johnson, but his authority has come under challenge as never before.

"I think he's really undermined his credibility at this point, and it really saddles him with the kind of problems that Johnson and Nixon faced," said Robert Dallek, a presidential historian and Johnson biographer. "These crises are such a heavy burden, and they are so self-inflicted, except for the court vacancies, that if he is not very careful and tries to put across someone who is seen as an ultraconservative, he is going to touch off a conflagration in the Senate."

Even before the hurricane, the centerpiece of Bush's second-term domestic agenda, his plan to overhaul Social Security, was all but dead for this year. Now his and his party's plans for eliminating the estate tax (with Senate debate to begin as early as this week) would seem to carry political risks that Democrats are already eagerly exploiting, in light of the vast new needs envisioned for disaster relief and rebuilding.

Few in the capital seemed inclined to argue with the simple assessment of Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, one of the White House's closest allies on the Judiciary Committee, who said: "When it rains, it pours -- figuratively and literally."

Much remained uncertain late Sunday, including whether the president would choose to make Judge John G. Roberts Jr. his nominee to replace Rehnquist as chief justice instead of replacing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, or choose someone else, perhaps a woman or a Latino.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has drawn intense fire from some conservatives, who see him as insufficiently opposed to abortion. But his up-by-the-bootstraps background might now have extraordinary appeal for a president facing criticism that he failed to show adequate sensitivity to, or even particular initial awareness of, the plight of the overwhelmingly poor and minority population left behind in New Orleans when the storm and flooding struck.

"I think if the president picked two Anglo-Saxon men, he would lose the potential of some support," said Richard D. Friedman, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School and an expert on Supreme Court history. "If he picks a Latino, there are clearly going to be some people who may be ideologically predisposed against that nominee who are going to be turned around by the prospect for the first Hispanic chief justice."

But one Republican strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to be seen as speaking for the president, said that while it was "a totally reasonable question" to ask what effect the hurricane and other current events might have on the president's decision, "it's not going to affect his judgment."

The strategist noted that before Bush chose Roberts almost seven weeks ago, "there was a lot of speculation that it's got to be a woman, it's got to be a Hispanic, it's got to be someone the Democrats will support, and it didn't affect his decision-making, and it won't affect his decision-making now."

Perhaps. But the plain truth is that Roberts was far from the most controversial candidate Bush could have picked to succeed O'Connor, and all but his most dedicated opponents now assume his confirmation will go through. It is hard not to conclude that Bush was hoping to avoid a big fight. And that was before a grieving mother named Cindy Sheehan put an unexpectedly galvanizing human face on criticism of the war in Iraq, before Katrina's desperate victims shone a similar spotlight on the government's failings.

In the short term, Bush seems likely to be consumed with assuring the public that he is on the case of hurricane relief. He is to head to the region again on Monday, and aides cautioned against any expectation that he would make an immediate announcement on a new court nominee, however thoroughly the White House may have already vetted potential candidates in the expectation that Rehnquist might soon retire.

Nixon himself summarized the stakes, when he announced Rehnquist's nomination on television on the night of Oct. 21, 1971. "Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court, through its decisions, goes on forever," he said, adding: "They will make decisions which will affect your lives and the lives of your children for generations to come."

In the longer term, it is hard to know just what effect the criticism over Katrina will have on Bush's fortunes, or his party's in next year's midterm elections. It seems at least probable that, among many black Americans in particular, the administration's early stumbles will remain a raw spot long after the floodwaters have been drained and New Orleans' levees rebuilt.

Less dramatic episodes have had enduring political effects. In October 1960, John F. Kennedy called Martin Luther King Jr.'s wife, Coretta, to offer his assistance after King was jailed in the wake of a lunch-counter sit-in. Nixon, who had had better relations with King than Kennedy had, and sympathized with his plight, ultimately declined to do so or make a public statement. Kennedy greatly increased the Democrats' share of the black vote in the next month's election, and Nixon lost by the narrowest of margins.

Bush himself will never face election again, but he will face the bar of history. When he arrived at St. John's Church on Sunday morning, just across Lafayette Park from the statue commemorating the triumph of one of his predecessors, Gen. Andrew Jackson, at the Battle of New Orleans, he could have been forgiven for feeling besieged.



Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

"This is a storm of enormous magnitude."

Thanks George for telling us something obvious. Here's what else is obvious: "You're a liar." "You're afraid to talk to anybody who isn't screened." "You're a hypocrite and a Pharisee." "You couldn't run a business and now you're screwing up America." But, George Bush won't admit to any of these things. And, the vaunted Fourth Estate won't ask question calculated to force him to.

"This is a storm of enormous magnitude" isn't news. The President of the United States of America spouting inanities is news. But, where are the headlines about this colossal, culpable failure of intellect-Bush's and his neo-con supporters' intelligence? Why no follow up questions to such an idiotic statement? Why didn't anyone ask, "That's great, Mr. President; but, why did you and Congress slash funding for flood control while giving tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy?" Why do we get a historian making stale comparisons to dead presidents. I'm interested, not in George Bush in relation to Lyndon Johnson; but, in George Bush in relation to New Orleans and why he seems "surprised" by Katrina's devastation. And why news reporters don't seem to know new from a hole in the ground.

"This is a storm of enormous magnitude." It this why you are President, George?

"he could have been forgiven for feeling besieged." He could have done his job. Who, in their right mind feels sorry for Bush the Besieged. I feel sorry for all those lost and drowned souls that are victims of the double disaster of Bush and Katrina.

I want to hear "I am a immoral egoist and I will submit myself to the bar of American justice" from the one. And, "As a result of Bush's cruel policies, corporate favoritism, trickle up economics, the Afghanistan/Iraq/War on Terror horror and his supremely foolish "Let's just ignore Hurricane Katrina" policy there is a growing movement to impeach this President and IMPEACH HIM NOW!" from the others.

"This is a storm of enormous magnitude." Is why you became journalists?

and a poop on the people >>> time to flush this turkey turd.

Bush's Staged New Orleans Photo Ops

Louisiana senator hits Bush 'photo opportunity'

A Chicago grand jury has indicted the President and Vice-President of the United States along with multiple high officials in the Bush administration


by Tom Flocco

Chicago -- August 2, 2005 -- -- U.S. federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s Chicago grand jury has voted perjury and obstruction of justice indictments to the following members of the Bush Administration: President George W. Bush, Vice-President Richard Cheney, Bush Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Cheney Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, imprisoned New York Times reporter Judith Miller and former Senior Cheney advisor Mary Matalin.

Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Watson Discuss The Scripted Pat Tillman Hoax

The staged death of Pat Tillman and how the military covered it up to manufacture another fairy story to support the illusion of the flagging 'war on terror'. Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Watson go through past examples of war propaganda in detail, from the staged Saddam statue fall to the Jessica Lynch fable.

Alex Jones Interviews Christopher Bollyn on the Popular Mechanics 9/11 Hit Piece

Christopher Bollyn uncovered the fact that Ben Chertoff, the chief editor of the Popular Mechanics 9/11 hit piece, was the cousin of Michael Chertoff, the new Homeland Security Czar.

Alex Jones Interviews David Ray Griffin

Alex talks with the author of the New Pearl Harbor. David Ray Griffin is professor of philosophy of religion at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University and one of the co-directors of the Center for Process Studies.

9/11 Truth Expose

Alex is joined by three different guests for a two and a half hour 9/11 truth expose. Greg Szymanski and William Rodriguez discuss the controlled demolition of the twin towers. Rodriguez was a material witness to bombs going off in the basement of the north tower and his story has been blacked out by the mainstream media.

Also included is former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under President Reagan, Paul Craig Roberts, who recently went public with his doubts about the official 9/11story.

Government Insider Says Bush Authorized 911 Attacks
From Thomas Buyea

Keep in mind when reading this, that the man being interviewed is no two-bit internet conspiracy buff.

Stanley Hilton was a senior advisor to Sen Bob Dole (R) and has personally known Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz for decades. This courageous man has risked his professional reputation, and possibly his life, to get this information out to people.

The following is from his latest visit to Alex Jones' radio show.
To hear Alex's interview with Stanley Hilton -

What if:

* The Twin Towers were not hit by commercial airliners?
* The World Trade Center was brought down in a controlled demolition?
* The Pentagon was not hit by a 757?
* Flight 93 was shot down?

Four years after September 11th, the American People are left with more questions than answers. This documentary addresses those questions, as well as providing the evidence necessary to begin answering them. From the phony bin Laden tape to the lack of a 757 at the Pentagon, Loose Change wraps everything up into an hour of solid evidence.

FREE Loose Change and other 911 Downloads

Bacteriologist and Government Insider Claims Oklahoma City and 9/11 Both 'Inside Jobs'

LaRouche Says 'Georgie Porgie And Hitler' Running Government And Leading World Into Global Disaster

Former Democratic nominee for President and Labor Party Presidential candidate, Lyndon LaRouche, claims martial law is right around the corner if Bush, Cheney and the neo-cons aren't removed from their stranglehold on government.

Former Head Of Pentagon's Depleted Uranium Project Says Thousands Of Troops Are Sick And Dying From Illegal DU Use And Military's Failure To Admit Responsibility

Prominent Chicago Judicial Watch Dog Claims U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens In Chicago To Mediate Resolution Concerning Grand Jury Indictments Against Bush And Other High-Level Officials

Federal Whistle Blower Claims Chicago Grand Jury Indicted Bush And Others For Perjury and Obstruction Of Justice; U.S. Attorney's Office Says 'No Comment,' Refusing To Confirm Or Deny Alleged Indictments

At the Front of Nowhere at All
The Perfect Storm and the Feral City

The headline was: "Direct hit in New Orleans could mean a modern Atlantis," and the first paragraph of the story read: "More than 1.2 million people in metropolitan New Orleans were warned to get out Tuesday as [the] 140-mph hurricane churned toward the Gulf Coast, threatening to submerge this below-sea-level city in what could be the most disastrous storm to hit in nearly 40 years." That was USA Today and the only catch was -- the piece had been written on September 14, 2004 as Hurricane Ivan seemed to be barreling toward New Orleans.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


Support This Site


Get free books and gear when you become a supporter.



Speaking Truth to Empire


Families United


Ray McGovern


Julie Varughese


Financial supporters of this site can choose to be listed here.



Ca-Dress Long Prom Dresses Canada
Ca Dress Long Prom Dresses on

Buy Books

Get Gear

The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.