Ken AshfordBush & Co., DisastersLeave a Comment

Perhaps responding to the criticism that Bush has been largely AWOL on Katrina, even though hundreds if not thousands of Americans have died, the White House has now put up its "hurricane relief" page, which you can see here.

Right now, the photo on the page shows Bush engaging in (according to the caption) a "video teleconference with federal and state emergency management organizations".  I guess it is meant to convey the Bush is "on the job", although there are only three people in the conference room: Bush, Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin, and someone on a video monitor.  From the looks of it, the guy on the screen is merely the news talking head (I think there is a scroll at the bottom of the screen).  I wonder where all these other "organizations" are.  Of course, when you read the fine print, you see that the photo was taken in Crawford on Sunday, well before the hurricane hit.

So I’m not sure it conveys the impression that Bush is now on the case: a photo from Sunday of a near-empty conference room.

But the worst thing about the web page is the banner:


That’s Bush, talking to some Average Joe who just happens to be holding an American flag.  Ah, the appeal to patriotism.  One gets the impression that Bush is speaking to a hurricane victim, something which, of course, he hasn’t done.  It recalls images of Bush standing with that firemen on the rubble of the WTC.

But again, the banner, like the whole web page, is meant to convey the impression that Bush is being all Clinton about this — i.e., that he is on top of the situation and feels are pain.  It’s crass and manipulative, especially while Americans are dying.