Prepare to be nauseated. Bill Clinton got impeached for lying about a blowjob, and we are just going to sit back and take this shit? “Have some more Soma, dear – I’m sure everything is under control…”
There they sit, a whole room full of hurricane experts and disaster managers, shouting down a telephone line at George W. Bush, warning him a full day ahead of time that Hurricane Katrina is a catastrophe waiting to happen. There stands Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center, emphatically explaining that Katrina is far larger and more dangerous than Hurricane Andrew, that the levees in New Orleans are in grave danger of being overtopped, and that the loss of life could be extreme.
There sits the much-maligned FEMA Director Michael Brown, joining in the chorus of warnings to Mr. Bush and giving every appearance of a man actually doing his job. “This is, to put it mildly, the big one,” says Brown. “Everyone within FEMA is now virtually on call.” Brown goes on to deliver an eerily accurate prediction of the horrors to come within the Louisiana Superdome. “I don’t know what the heck we’re going to do for that, and I also am concerned about that roof,” says Brown. “Not to be kind of gross here, but I’m concerned about (medical and mortuary disaster team) assets and their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe.”
And there, of course, is Mr. Bush, sitting in a dim conference room while on vacation in Texas, listening to all the pleas for immediate action on the telephone. With an emphatic hand gesture, Bush promises any and all help necessary. “I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm,” says Bush, “but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm.” After the delivery of this promise, however, Bush goes mute. No questions, no comments, no concerns. As if to foreshadow what the people of New Orleans received from their leader, Mr. Bush finishes the conference by delivering a whole lot of nothing.
That’s the video, 19 hours before the bomb struck New Orleans. It is gut-wrenching because everyone now knows what came next. The storm struck, the waters rolled in, and thousands were left to die. Days passed with no help reaching the city. Images of corpses left to rot in the streets were broadcast around the globe. It is gut-wrenching, more than anything else, because of this: four days later, when questioned about his flaccid response to the catastrophe in Louisiana, Bush stated, “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.” Right. No one anticipated the breach of the levees except the Director of the National Hurricane Center, the Director of FEMA, and a half-dozen other experts who implored Mr. Bush to take this storm seriously a full day before the hammer dropped.