Ex-aides: Bush never recovered from Katrina

Hurricane Katrina not only pulverized the Gulf Coast in 2005, it knocked the bully pulpit out from under President George W. Bush, according to two former advisers who spoke candidly about the political impact of the government’s poor handling of the natural disaster.

"Katrina to me was the tipping point," said Matthew Dowd, Bush’s pollster and chief strategist for the 2004 presidential campaign. "The president broke his bond with the public. Once that bond was broken, he no longer had the capacity to talk to the American public. State of the Union addresses? It didn’t matter. Legislative initiatives? It didn’t matter. P.R.? It didn’t matter. Travel? It didn’t matter."

Dan Bartlett, former White House communications director and later counselor to the president, said: "Politically, it was the final nail in the coffin."

Their comments are a part of an oral history of the Bush White House that Vanity Fair magazine compiled for its February issue, which hits newsstands in New York and Los Angeles on Wednesday, and nationally on Jan. 6. Vanity Fair published comments by current and former government officials, foreign ministers, campaign strategists and numerous others on topics that included Iraq, the anthrax attacks, the economy and immigration.

Lawrence Wilkerson, top aide and later chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, said that as a new president, Bush was like Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee whom critics said lacked knowledge about foreign affairs. When Bush first came into office, he was surrounded by experienced advisers like Vice President Dick Cheney and Powell, who Wilkerson said ended up playing damage control for the president.

"It allowed everybody to believe that this Sarah Palin-like president — because, let’s face it, that’s what he was — was going to be protected by this national-security elite, tested in the cauldrons of fire," Wilkerson said, adding that he considered Cheney probably the "most astute, bureaucratic entrepreneur" he’d ever met.

"He became vice president well before George Bush picked him," Wilkerson said of Cheney. "And he began to manipulate things from that point on, knowing that he was going to be able to convince this guy to pick him, knowing that he was then going to be able to wade into the vacuums that existed around George Bush — personality vacuum, character vacuum, details vacuum, experience vacuum."

On other topics, David Kuo, who served as deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, disputed the idea that the Bush White House was dominated by religious conservatives and catered to the needs of a religious right voting bloc.

"The reality in the White House is — if you look at the most senior staff — you’re seeing people who aren’t personally religious and have no particular affection for people who are religious-right leaders," Kuo said.

"In the political affairs shop in particular, you saw a lot of people who just rolled their eyes at … basically every religious-right leader that was out there, because they just found them annoying and insufferable. These guys were pains in the butt who had to be accommodated."


  1. bryan mcclellan

    So now we’re supposed to feel sorry for a privileged peanut brain that never should have had the job in the first place. HACK!

    These assholes actually think we all should be gathered around the fire singing folk songs about the greatest debacle of leadership to come down the Pike. HACK!

    Now they want us root them on as they distance themselves from the rabid religious folk like that is not what got them elected and appointed to their posts in the first place. HACK!

    No honor among thieves is the title song of this gang of reckless greedy power mad scum. HACK!

    Take note Republican apologists, the heart strings of America are over plucked and broken. Your sad ass lamentations for W’s feelings along with the effort to hide your incompetence are not fooling anyone but the rabid 26%, (if there are that many left). HACK!

    Your boy proved to be the political anti American way messiah whose only bent was to destroy the middle class and turn the wealth over to his base. HACK!

    When you piss ants get out and about in the private sector you would do well to keep quiet about your affiliation with the Birdbrain of Pennsylvania Ave. Your names and actions will live on in infamy. As the name Booth is to the late 1800’s you will ever be remembered as the assassins of the United States Constitution. HACK!

    The last eight years have been lie upon lie and there is zero empathy left in this nation of broken dreams and promises.Pack your shit W. Be sure to take Dich with you and along with your half ass turd polishers, get the fuck out and don’t come back. HACK!

  2. Doc_Holiday

    Exactly Bryan! What is this guy telling us to do? Feel bad for a puppet president and the cohortes at his side? I do feel bad, I do. For the millions of Americans that had to suffer his eight years as “leader” of the free world, and will continue to suffer years after Ol’ George and Laura retreat to their tax-payer compensated, Secret Service protected home.

    A couple quotes to tickle your fancy:

    “I’ll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008

    “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” —Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

  3. bryan mcclellan

    I hear the Rolling Stones Sympathy for the Devil blaring in the background Doc. It is insulting and should be a crime for these pukes to be able to continue to fall on their swords for the Napoleonic, Hitleresque figure that is GWB. That group includes his first lady and his mistress, rice for brains condie.

    Every child of this nation and the world with their last dying breath should condemn and vilify the memory of the worst subhuman collection of DNA to ever walk our Blue Planet.

    A recent poster stated that this record has to be committed to paper so that none may ever use a key stroke to change the awful history of the boob we have had to endure these past eight years and I agree. Furthermore it is our duty to keep the record straight by schooling the coming generations in the truth by meticulous documentation of the lies and crimes perpetrated by the Bush Cabal so that none will ever come to the oval office again with Kingly aspirations.

  4. adb8917

    I know I’m starting to ‘sound’ like a broken record, but let me suggest that we start a nationwide fundraising campaign to buy full page ads in all of the nation’s major newspapers to run on January 20th quoting Oliver Cromwell when he dismissed the English Parliament in 1653, and citing George Bush by name…

    “President George W. Bush, you have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”*

    * Also said to Neville Chamberlain at the end of his disastrous term as British Prime Minister at the outset of WWII.


  5. spartacus

    To everyone who commented above: AMEN!!!!!!

    I’m with conservative writer Christopher Buckley, who said that “somewhere the heirs of James Buchanan are shouting ‘Yippee! Yippee!” at the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush. Until now, Buchanan was thought to have been the worst president ever. All he did was hasten the Civil War and then do nothing to prevent it before Lincoln became president.