Morning Report 9/6/05 Bush Team Starts Image Cleanup


Military retirees, Halliburton are safe. World wonders whether reign will ever end.

FEMA Closed for repairs: Above, the Bush team in Crawford last month. Below, the entrance to a Gulfport, Mississippi, gas station battered by Hurricane Katrina. Or, vice versa.


David Bohrer/White House

After showing the same kind of disregard for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina’s invasion as it showed for the aftermath of its own invasion of Iraq, the Bush regime marched into the ravaged Gulf Coast over the holiday weekend to do emergency cleanup.

But that work on George W. Bush‘s image may be too late. As the waters recede, a couple of things are becoming clear, if you can see through the forest of finger-pointers. One is that the military knew full well what was going on and made choices early to protect its own. When it came to protecting the rest of us, however, the military waited for word from confused civilian officials.

On August 31, the Air Force conducted a mass evacuation by bus and C-130 transport of 400 people at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Mississippi. That mission was quick, efficient. The airlift transplanted the military retirees to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Another military crew spruced up their new living space there. A job needed and well done, no doubt about it.

But it took several more days for the military to jump into action in New Orleans.

And our top military contractor, Halliburton, took care of its own, too. With 3,000 of its employees in the area battered by Hurricane Katrina, the company, which has gotten rich off the Bush regime’s war in Iraq, set up a toll-free emergency line and began “collecting food, clothing and cleaning supplies to assist their colleagues in need.” Halliburton responded to its employees’ crisis the way our government should have responded to its citizens. Just one example, from the company’s own propaganda factory:

Counselors from Halliburton’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) arrived on-site Tuesday to affected areas to offer assistance to employees and their families. The company began its EAP in 1980 to assist employees around the world with a variety of situations regarding work-related and personal issues. Halliburton’s EAP is working with employees to assess damage and offer assistance based on personal levels of need that are not covered by insurance claims or other disaster relief or assistance programs.

Of course, Halliburton can afford to do this, because, unlike the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it has no problem getting funding by the Bush regime to handle domestic projects.

On September 1, the Navy hired Halliburton to repair damage from Katrina. It’s doubtful that the company even needed its new lobbyist, Joe Allbaugh, to wrangle that deal. Allbaugh, a former Bush campaign manager, was the regime’s first FEMA director, and it’s his college roommate, Mike Brown, who’s the current FEMA director under fire for bungling the relief operations.

Maybe Allbaugh ought to return to the Bush regime to participate in image cleanup, which is desperately needed now that even the New York Times is getting openly cynical, first by noting that Karl Rove himself has stepped in to “ease political damage” and, this morning, calling the president’s excursion “a trip to quiet the critics.”

While others pumped out water and pumped in supplies, Bush himself avoided another battle of New Orleans by steering clear of the city.

Guided by his handlers’ intelligent design, Bush relied on Noah instead of NOAA and skirted a potential storm of protest in the city formerly known as the Big Easy. Instead, he fought his way to a church in Baton Rouge, where he hugged black people. While there, he shamelessly tried to mend his image with African Americans by thanking “my friend T.D. Jakes for rallying the armies of compassion.”

Jakes knows about armies. The televangelist has a 28,000-member church empire in Dallas and a mutual back-scratching relationship with the president when it comes to Bush’s faith-based monies.

Bush called in his own reserves. Press conferences and personal appearances featuring the anchors of his news team — Don Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, General Dick “Quag” Myers, among others — may yet stem the flood of criticism.

But not in New Orleans, where the Times-Picayune published an “open letter to the president” calling for the firing of every FEMA official from Mike Brown on down.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 6, 2005

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