Thursday, March 02, 2006

"Heckuva job," the prequel

President Bush, four days after Katrina hit New Orleans: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."
Scientist Max Mayfield of the National Hurricaine Center, speaking to President Bush during a briefing one day before Katrina hit New Orleans: A major breach of the levees, he warned, "is obviously a very, very grave concern."
But just in case your knowledge of the English language, and your basic auditory skills, might tempt you to think that the release of this video makes the president look bad (he didn't ask a single question during the session), a White House spokesman is here to help. From Trent Duffy: "I hope people don't draw conclusions from the president getting a single briefing."
Actually, hang on a second, here's an even more helpful one, from a Department of Homeland Security flak: “There’s nothing new or insightful" on the video - or on any of the other Katrina videos that will not be released to the public.
Wait, hang on another second, this one is even better: The administration's diehard supporters, who have never met a Bush miscue that they cannot defend, have settled on a rebuttal theme. It can be found on the conservative powerlineblog (see link at right-side of this page). They note that Mayfield never uttered the word "breach," that in fact he was literally warning that the levees would be "topped" by the flooding waters. And because Mayfield only said "topped" as opposed to "breached," that somehow means that Bush didn't later mislead Americans when he said nobody anticipated a "breach."
But the Bush defenders are being a tad Clintonian, since they are basically splitting hairs over what the meaning of the word "breach" is. And the fact is, water engineering experts have long argued that one of the most common causes of "levee breach initiation" is "overtopping of the levee by high water levels and subsequent downward erosion." (Those quotes come from the engineers at
Keep trying, guys.