Monday, September 12, 2005

Dodging the Bullet

For days now, the Bush administration's excuse for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina has been that initial reports said New Orleans had "dodged a bullet." That phrase has come up again and again, as administration officials claim they saw newspaper headlines that said -- either explicitly or implicitly -- that we'd "dodged a bullet."

For instance, here's President Bush this morning:
What I was referring to is this: When that storm came by, a lot of people said we dodged a bullet. When that storm came through at first, people said, Whew. There was a sense of relaxation. And that’s what I was referring to.

And I myself thought we had dodged a bullet. You know why? Because I was listening to people probably over the airwaves say, The bullet has been dodged. And that was what I was referring to.

Of course, there were plans in case the levee had been breached. There was a sense of relaxation at a critical moment.

I can't find a longer transcript, but it actually got painful watching him repeat this line over and over. I've taken some Advil and even bought a leather belt to bite down on when the pain gets too much, because if we know anything about this administration, it's that they like to stay on message. They'll beat this horse to death, and then have Mike Brown's friends at the International Arabian Horse Association see how they did.

But the odd thing here is something that generally happens when the President dismissively rails against something "a lot of people" have said or done. In most cases, "a lot of people" only exist in his head, as a convenient group of straw men with whom the president to do battle. Sort of a Debate Society version of the Washington Generals. It doesn't matter that "a lot of people" never said this or that, the president will bravely shoot down their non-existent arguments all the same. He's a leader, people!

This time, "a lot of people" said that we'd "dodged a bullet" with the hurricane. Really? Go over to AmericaBlog and see all the actual headlines from the storm's first strike. (I'd reproduce them here, but Blogger apparently hates the news.) But go and take a look at them and see if you can find anything that even remotely resembles the "dodged a bullet" theme the Bush administration insists was out there. No? Nothing?

It's almost like they're, you know, lying.


Mrs_Thrillhous said...

Hmmm. "Devastation" was a pretty common headline word.

Perhaps someone told him they were getting out of Dodge as they whisked him to Arizona, and it stuck.

Because I was listening to people probably over the airwaves

Nope, I don't think anyone on the airwaves was saying anything about averting danger. I think he heard other kinds of whispering.

Otto Man said...

Or maybe someone probably said that bullets had been fired in the looting, and from there, Bush just started daydreaming about old Quick-Draw McGraw cartoons. Hard to tell.

But I really do think that the interior of Bush's brain is much like Homer Simpsons' -- nothing but old black-and-white Disney cartoons.

Thrillhous said...

Leather belt. Hah!

I thought W was too brave to listen to the airwaves. Something about the media filter. Maybe by "airwaves" he meant "speakerphone," and by "a lot of people" he meant "my team of yes men."

By the way, I happened to see on the History channel last night a special about Hurricane Andrew, the one that Bush sr. flubbed so badly. It's eery how similarly father and son messed up. One example: W sr refused to engage in a certain game, a certain game with a rhyming name. How'd that turn out for him?

Mrs_Thrillhous said...

This is actually W's second rhymes-with-game game. Yeah, the press forgot about the first one too.