Thursday, September 15, 2005

Reading Newspapers--- sort of a basic thing

I recommend reading "How Bush Blew It, over at Newsweek.
Here is an excerpt:

"How this could be—how the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness," as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century—is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace.

President George W. Bush has always trusted his gut. He prides himself in ignoring the distracting chatter, the caterwauling of the media elites, the Washington political buzz machine. He has boasted that he doesn't read the papers. His doggedness is often admirable. It is easy for presidents to overreact to the noise around them.
But it is not clear what President Bush does read or watch, aside from the occasional biography and an hour or two of ESPN here and there. Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him. Bush can ask tough questions, but it's mostly a one-way street. Most presidents keep a devil's advocate around. Lyndon Johnson had George Ball on Vietnam; President Ronald Reagan and Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, grudgingly listened to the arguments of Budget Director Richard Darman, who told them what they didn't wish to hear: that they would have to raise taxes.

When Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the resources to cope, couldn't act without a declaration from the president overriding all other authority."

and:" One by one, the lawmakers listed their grievances as Bush listened. Rep. Bobby Jindal, whose district encompasses New Orleans, told of a sheriff who had called FEMA for assistance. According to Jindal, the sheriff was told to e-mail his request, "and the guy was sitting in a district underwater and with no electricity," Jindal said, incredulously. "How does that make any sense?" Jindal later told NEWSWEEK that "almost everybody" around the conference table had a similar story about how the federal response "just wasn't working." With each tale, "the president just shook his head, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing," says Jindal, a conservative Republican and Bush appointee who lost a close race to Blanco. Repeatedly, the president turned to his aides and said, "Fix it."

And then over at MahaBlog,( here is that bloggers reaction to this article:

There's something fundamentally screwy about a president who won't read newspapers or watch television news, but instead relies entirely on his staff to tell him what's going on in the world. This is not normal. Imagine a CEO who pays no attention to his company or industry in general until someone on his staff works up the courage to tell him the company is losing money. Granted, a lot of corporate heads are oblivious, but not that oblivious.

(According to legend,
John Kennedy used to speed-read six newspapers every morning while he ate breakfast. As I recall, Kennedy usually had a clue what was going on in the world.)

Second, what is the point of an executive who gives no direction? Many's the time I've attended "crisis" meetings in which staff and managers and maybe a couple of vice presidents dealt with a serious problem. After thorough discussion of the goals and obstacles, and after questions are asked and suggestions are made, the big shots decide on a plan of action. They don't just sit there and yell, "fix it!"

From my own reading of History, I believe that FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, they all read newspapers each morning. LBJ had 3 tvs set up so he could watch all 3 network news programs.

It sort of pinpoints one of the really strange aspects of "W". He doesn't read newspapers, or watch the news(has to get a Dvd made of summaries), and he doesn't talk to any ordinary Americans, any American in some diner or cafe, or on the street, or anyone who disagrees with him. All meetings with the public are totally vetted events. Thus like Nixon he islolates himself more and more. Unique and strange, and in the case of Katrina, deadly for those stuck in attics, in the poorest neighborhoods.

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