Bush isn’t perfect. Who knew?
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina we have heard our president deploy many ill-advised quotes, chief among them his ‘“heckuva job’” kudos to former FEMA director Mike Brown and his chortling recollections of binge drinking in the French Quarter while victims clamored to get out of the city and the floodwaters had not begun to recede.
That one must have made Karl Rove’s head explode.
But the most amazing thing Bush has said after these terrible events occurred last Tuesday during an appearance with the new president of Iraq.
‘“To the extent the federal government didn’t fully do its job right, I take responsibility,’” he said.
We did not see that one coming.
Since taking office after the contested election of 2000, Bush has never admitted any kind of mistake or wrongdoing. When he first ran for the highest office in the land he stonewalled questions about his history of substance abuse. Ditto that when confronted with criticism about his aptitude for taking vacations on his Texas ranch (trips which account for about 20 percent of his time in office). He did not admit fault for his famous seven minutes of silence in a Florida classroom after being informed that the country was under attack on Sept. 11, 2001. He has accepted no blame for bringing the country to war over unsubstantiated claims of Iraqi WMDs.
Bush never accepted responsibility for giving tax breaks to the very wealthy, for awarding billion-dollar contracts to Halliburton (to which, of course, his VP has strong ties), for the lack of an exit strategy for the war, for allowing members of the bin Laden family to leave the United States immediately after the attacks on 9/11 and before being questioned by the FBI, for accruing a deficit that threatens the stability of the entire economy, for alienating our overseas allies, for placing our troops under enemy fire without adequate armor, for under-funding his No Child Left Behind plan, for not reading newspapers.
We could go on.
During a prime time press conference in April 2004, he was asked to name any mistakes he had made thus far in his presidency and state what he learned from them. It was a question he left unanswered.
But Bush is taking the rap for this one even as his legions of supporters contend that he was not to blame for the oversights that caused so much death and misery after the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina swallowed the city of New Orleans and major parcels of the Gulf Coast.
This accountability is the first chink in the armor of the Bush political machine, the first time they made an admission, however veiled, to any wrongdoing at all.
And while the cynics here in the newsroom are certain that Bush’s acceptance of this ‘responsibility’ will have absolutely no consequences at all for him personally or professionally, we take heart in seeing him step up to the plate and take this fastball on the chin.