Saturday, September 10, 2005

Anonymous damage control for Bush

Some have been critical of major media outlets continuing to allow senior White House staff to provide anonymous accounts of internal White House goings on....I actually think it backfires on the White House in some instances, such as this one, reported here. The spin just seems a little too convenient at this moment.
The president, long reluctant to fire subordinates, came to a belated recognition that his administration was in trouble for the way it had dealt with the disaster, many of his supporters say. One moment of realization occurred on Thursday of last week when an aide carried a news agency report from New Orleans into the Oval Office for him to see.

The report was about the evacuees at the convention center, some dying and some already dead. Mr. Bush had been briefed that morning by his homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, who was getting much of his information from Mr. Brown and was not aware of what was occurring there. The news account was the first that the president and his top advisers had heard not only of the conditions at the convention center but even that there were people there at all.

"He's not a screamer," a senior aide said of the president. But Mr. Bush, angry, directed the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., to find out what was going on.

"The frustration throughout the week was getting good, reliable information," said the aide, who demanded anonymity so as not to be identified in disclosing inner workings of the White House. "Getting truth on the ground in New Orleans was very difficult."

If Mr. Bush was upset with Mr. Brown at that point, he did not show it. When he traveled to the Gulf Coast the next day, he stood with him and, before the cameras, cheerfully said, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."
So what do we learn from this anonymous spinster?

Well apparently the President is woefully beholden to his aides' filtering of information. The perception once again is that he is an extremely busy man and must be briefed by his aides, who are in turn negligent in not providing him with up to date truthful info on aftermath. It appears that Chertoff was briefing him on what was going on but Chertoff in turn was getting much of his information from . And we all know what has happened to Brownie.

Brownie is the fall guy of the moment, so let's pile on and add the President's ill-informed briefings to Brownie's much publicized incompetence. What else are we to make of the comment that, "Getting truth on the ground in New Orleans was very difficult."

So that is my guess on the perception or record they hope to create by this account. That once again, it's not the President's fault that he didn't know about the disaster at the Convention Center, it's those around him, his aides' fault. After all, when Bush got an inkling of the problem, according to this source, he immediately became angry and directed Card to find out "what was going on." The truth of this account is questionable, as the Times implies, given Bush's endorsement of Brownie the following day.

I guess it's too much to ask of a President and his staff, in this day and age, to be tapped in to the latest information, be it print, television or computer. The President as passive receptacle, quite a picture the senior aide paints.