More than five years after the fact, former President George W. Bush is admitting that having a photograph taken of him peering out the window of Air Force One at the Katrina-caused wreckage of New Orleans was a “huge mistake.”
During an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer set to air next week, Bush had no qualms accepting that, with 20/20 hindsight, he would have approached the situation much differently to avoid appearing “detached and uncaring.”
“It’s always my fault. I mean, I was the one who should have said: ‘A) Don’t take my picture, B) Let’s land in Baton Rouge, La., C) Let’s don’t even come close to the area.’ The next place to be seen is in Washington at a command center. I mean it was my fault,” Bush said.
Bush’s handling of the natural disaster was widely regarded as one of the low points of his political career, which was projected by a downward slide of his approval ratings in the following months.
The former president went on to show remorse for not getting more directly involved with the ground situation in the aftermath of the hurricane’s damage to the gulf.
“In retrospect, however, I should have touched down in Baton Rouge, met with the governor and walked out and said, ‘I hear you. We understand. And we’re going to help the state and help the local governments with as much resources as needed,’” Bush said. “And then got back on a flight up to Washington. I did not do that. And paid a price for it.”
Bush also addressed Katrina backlash in the context of his public image by saying that Kanye West’s “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” comment was one of the most painful moments of his presidency.