When historians look back for the moment that the wheels came off the Bush administration, they will highlight August 30th, 2005. Bush may have been able to overcome his seven minutes of indecision on September 11, 2001. But after Katrina, Bush’s “My Pet Goat” moment stretched on for more than 48 oblivious hours.
While the rest of the world watched in helpless anguish on CNN as families tried to flag down hellicopters from their island rooftops and as the scene at the SuperDome began to resemble one of Dante’s lower circles of hell, Bush was marking not the greatest natural disaster since the 1906 earthquake leveled San Francisco, but rather the 60th anniversary of V-J Day in San Diego. It was a backdrop reminiscent of “Mission Accomplished” with the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan looming behind the president’s podium.
After delivering his remarks — blasting his strawman foes for their pre-9/11 mindset, not realizing that it was he at that moment who was stuck in the pre-Katrina past — Bush shook hands with a few members of the greatest generation before continuing to live it up on his 5-week vacation, clowning around with country music star Mark Wills.
I’ve never understood why this image hasn’t caught on outside of the narrower reaches of the blogosphere. For me it is the iconic photograph of the the recklessness and the fecklessness of the Bush era. The president strumming…
…as New Orleans drowned.