I've been watching the news a bunch and trying to follow the developing story that has been Katrina. This, as most of you know, is a very long and tedious process with tiny nuggets of data popping up and then nothing connecting to them till much later. Little by little, all the unrelated nuggets build a mountain of stuff that becomes the story.
Yesterday there was a tiny little nugget that I filed away as really interesting. CNN, Solidad O'Brian interviewing the NO mayor. He was relaying what transpired on Air Force One when he, the gov and GWB were aboard chatting. He said something like "and I looked at them [the gov and gwb] and said 'you two need to get in synch'". He then described how the pres took the gov into a back room and tried to have her sign something. Lastly he said something like "and the governor said she needed 24 hours to decide".
To me, this seemed really strange on all kinds of levels. First off, what was he referring to about them getting in synch? What was there to wonder about? In a national emergency I think we’re set up so the locals have most of the authority in their areas. Secondly, what was this document that the governor had to sign? What was there to think about for 24 hours? At the point of the meeting, the only thing anybody wanted (and I say anybody and mean anyone not in the government, except maybe the mayor) was for food and water to be dropped to the people at the convention center and the dome and secondly for a fleet of busses and choppers to evacuate people from the city.
So, I filed it away and was pretty sure I’d hear nothing about it since it occurred on AF1 and tiny details like meetings with the president are usually hushed up pretty quickly and the media seems to let them go.
Finally this morning some more nuggets collected. It’s about 11am EST and CNN just told me about how the president snubbed the governor on his visit today, not telling her he was coming, etc. Interesting.
Also CNN is starting to talk about how the BWH attempted to pressure the governor to sign some kind of document that would allow them control over the National Guard. Evidently, from what I heard, there was some hard ball being played and some strong arming being done to get her to sign.
I put this all together and come up with the answers for my questions about the meeting with the 3. I don’t know exactly how I feel about who should be in control the National Guard, etc. But I am very sure that in this situation, there should have been no power struggles and infighting between the governor and the president at the peak moment of need for the people of New Orleans. Not to be to dramatic, but every second counted in the effort to rescue these people and it seems to me that a significant number of those seconds were used up by wheeling and dealing and games by the Bush White House.
And now it seems that the BWH and Rove are in full deflection mode now. They’ve had time to come up with a political game plan (seemed to take effect the morning that the president said "We aren’t doing enough") and they are executing it to their fullest ability. Notice how the president is now visiting the area and looking more concerned and not smiling as much. Notice how aid is showing up and things are getting accomplished now that he’s pledged his full support. Notice how blame is being subtley deflected towards the local authorities. The Bush White House is playing us and for once it kind of seems that we’re all not falling for it, which is a really positive thing.