I couldn’t believe it. I heard it in my car this morning, but apparently on this morning’s "Good Morning America", George Bush spoke to Diane Sawyer and said, "I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." (I’ll try to get a transcript link when/if it becomes available, but you can see the video replay of the interview here).
Now, before I get into that, let’s look at what the New York Times wrote about Bush’s no-more-vacation speech from the White House on the subject of Katrina:
Waiting for a Leader
George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.
I guess that explains why he went on "Good Morning America". He sucked yesterday — even the neo-cons at NRO’s "The Corner" agree.
But, please. Nobody anticipated this? Mr. President, that is bullshit. Serious bullshit. Absolutely bullshit. Nothing but bullshit. Hell, I even blogged about the possibility of a levee break on Sunday before Katrina hit!
Does Bush’s excuse sound familiar?
Steve, I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.
–Condi Rice press briefing, May 16, 2002
That was bullshit, too.
All it takes is the ability to think ahead. To plan. To have a vision. To connect one dot to another.
When you get a report (the August 6 PDB) saying that bin Laden operatives were intent on striking the United States, especially New York, and when you are informed that terrorists were observed photographing building in New York, and when you already know that flying planes into buildings was an al Qaeda modus operandi, you should be able to realize, at the very least, that something is in the works.
When a hurricane is headed toward New Orleans carrying a predicted 26-foot storm surge (as reported by every major news outlet in the country), and when the levees are only 17 feet high and getting old, is it so hard to account for the possibility that there may be a breach of those levees?!?
UPDATE: Wesley Clark agrees (at TPM Cafe):
Then just this morning, the President claimed that no one could have anticipated the levee breaches we’ve seen in New Orleans after Katrina hit. That’s not leadership, that’s an excuse. In fact, people have predicted this kind of disaster for many years, including President Bush’s own FEMA in 2001, when they ranked hurricane flood damage to New Orleans among the three likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing America. Instead, funding was significantly cut back, leaving key engineering projects on hold. Instead, this Administration focused on the war in Iraq, tax cuts, and private sector economic growth without asking the American people to make needed sacrifices for the good of the country. Again I ask you, where is the leadership?
UPDATE 2: More and more see Bush’s excuse for what it is. Here, for example, is Hunter at Daily Kos:
Nobody anticipated this disaster? It was identified by FEMA as one of the top three likeliest major disasters to strike America. (That link, one of countless stories, was from 2001, by the way.) It has been a major disaster scenario for years. Everybody anticipated it, which makes this single statement by George W. Bush possibly the most dishonest, lying, craptacularly false thing he has ever said in his presidency — even surpassing his now-infamous State of the Union Address. Truly, this is President Bush’s blue-dress moment.