If you read the whole linked article, which I recommend you do, be prepared to get angrier and angrier as you read on about the sociopathy of Rove and Bush, etc. It will make you feel sick too if you have a compassionate heart.
How Karl Rove played politics while people drowned
Hurricane Katrina posed a huge test to Bush's administration. But instead of bailing out Louisiana, Karl Rove played Blame the Democrats.
By Paul Alexander
Jun. 06, 2008 | On Monday, August 29, 2005, at about 6:00 a.m., Hurricane Katrina slammed into the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. A category 5 hurricane until just before landfall, it was one of the worst storms ever to hit the Gulf Coast.
If Bush had not seen what was taking place by Tuesday, Karl Rove had. The first evidence of Rove's involvement in the Katrina disaster occurred on Tuesday afternoon. "Rove understood what a nightmare this was for the president," Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana says, "so he went into high gear on the spin thing they're so good at in the White House. Rove had David Vitter, the Republican senator from Louisiana. I was at a press conference and David Vitter walked up to the mike and said, 'I just got off the phone with Karl Rove.' I looked at the governor and she looked at me, like, 'Why is David Vitter on the phone with Karl Rove?' I mean, he could have been talking to generals, the president himself, but Rove is just a political hatchet man."
Despite his expertise being politics, the administration had made Rove a central player in the handling of the disaster. "A light switch in the White House didn't get turned on without going through Rove," says Adam Sharp, an aide to Landrieu. "It was clear that Rove was the point person for the White House on this disaster."
That fact was proven precisely by what Vitter had done and said at the press conference. "As soon as Vitter said he had just gotten off the phone with Rove and other Republican officials," Landrieu says, "he started in on the first talking point to come out of the ordeal. I said to myself, 'Oh my God, I can't believe the White House has already given David Vitter talking points to talk about this.' We weren't going to blame anyone. We weren't going to blame the president. I mean, is there a Republican talking point for how to get people water? But that was Karl Rove."
Instead of supplying relief to the city, Rove had devised a scheme whereby he could blame the failure of government to take action on someone besides Bush. "They looked around," Landrieu says, "and they found a Democratic governor and an African American Democratic mayor who had never held office before in his life before he was mayor of New Orleans — someone they knew they could manipulate. Ray Nagin had never held public office and here he was the mayor of New Orleans and it was going underwater."
In short, Rove was going to blame Blanco for the failure of the response in Louisiana, and to do that he was going to use Nagin. He had already set the plan in motion on Tuesday with Nagin, who, even though he was a Democrat, was so close to the Republican Party that some members of the African American community in New Orleans called him "Ray Reagan." In 2000, Nagin had actually contributed $2,000 to Bush's campaign when he ran for president.
Rove knew of Nagin's ties to the Republican Party, so more than likely Nagin could be convinced to level his criticism at Blanco and to support Bush when he could. Here was Rove's strategy: Praise Haley Barbour, the Republican governor of Mississippi; praise Michael Brown and FEMA; blame Blanco, the Democrat. It was not a stretch for Nagin. He and Blanco so disliked each other that in Blanco's last race Nagin had endorsed her opponent.
Rove and Nagin were communicating through e-mail. "I heard Nagin was bragging about being in touch with The Man," Blanco says. "Nagin took the position that they were the people who could help the most to do what he wanted. People get highly complimented when they have contact with the White House." In this case the trade-off for Nagin was his willingness to cooperate with Rove. "I knew Ray Nagin could be easily manipulated," Landrieu says. "I could feel it. We were all working together in a relatively small building. We were in close proximity. But I could see where Rove was going. Blame Blanco. Blame the levee board. Blame the corruption in New Orleans. 'The reason the city is going underwater is because the city is corrupt,' Rove was saying. 'But don't blame the Republicans or George W. Bush or David Vitter. We are the white guys in shining armor, and we are going to come in and save the city from years of corruption.' That was their story and they sold it very well."
After one of the most agonizing weeks in American history, with Bush and his key department secretaries embarrassed on national television, the blame, despite Rove's efforts to the contrary, ended up being placed firmly on the federal government. The administration, not Blanco and the state of Louisiana, took the hit, especially Michael Brown, who became a poster boy for ineptitude and was forced to resign from his job. Following Katrina, Bush's approval rating began to slip even more. "In the middle of the worst disaster in American history," Adam Sharp says, "the president was nowhere to be found and was still clearing brush on the ranch, when the previous iconic image people had of him was standing in the still-smoldering rubble of the World Trade Center 24 hours after the attacks and saying, 'I can hear you.' People were asking, 'Where is that moment here?'"
"So George [Stephanopoulos] and I went up in the helicopter and for three hours his jaw was dropping. Then I said, 'George, before we finish I have to show you one positive thing because I can't send you back to Washington to produce a story that shows nothing but devastation and disaster.' So I told the pilot to tack right so I can show George the 17th Street Canal and the work that was going on there. I swear as my name is Mary Landrieu I thought that what I saw with the president was still there — people working, trucks, sandbags, everything. Then I looked down and saw one little crane. It was like someone took a knife and stabbed me through my heart. I lost it." There, in the cabin of the helicopter, as they flew above the breached canal below them, Landrieu sat devastated.
"I could not believe that the president of the United States, staged by Karl Rove himself, had come down to the city of New Orleans and basically put up a stage prop. It was like you had gone to a studio in California and filmed a movie. They put the props up and the minute we were gone they took them down. All the dump trucks were gone. All the Coast Guard people were gone. It was an empty spot with one little crane. It was the saddest thing I have ever seen in my life. At that moment I knew what was going on and I've been a changed woman ever since. It truly changed my life."
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