Thursday, January 12, 2006

Wow! You Guys Have A Storm Down Here Or Something?

OK, the only thing we can figure is that there was bad weather on the flight path from Washington to Crawford and the president's plane was diverted to the hurricane zone.

President Bush, making his first visit in three months to the hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast, has been told to lower his expectations of recovery during Thursday's appearance in New Orleans and Mississippi.

"Actually, it wasn't too hard to lower his expectations," said White House chief of staff Andy Card. "He'd pretty much forgotten about the whole thing anyway. Thought Katrina was one of the White House custodial staff."

Bush was to meet with New Orleans business owners to tout a law he signed last fall reducing aid to poor and needy families by over 37 billion dollars. "We're not sure what that has to do with us," said a local businessman who asked not to be identified. "But we think he may be sending us a message."

Later in his visit the president will restate his commitment to rebuild white neighborhoods during a speech in the crumbled town of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where people were living in tents and trailers set up in front of homes with missing roofs and shattered windows.

Asked if he would actually talk with the people of Bay St. Louis, Card responded that the president must leave right away to attend a fundraiser at the sprawling oceanfront estate of Dwight Schar in Palm Beach, Florida. Schar raised more than $200,000 for Bush's re-election campaign. "You don't see that kind of money in Mississippi," Card explained.

Bush's message is expected to be that although recovery will be long and expensive, you're on your own because the federal government has already abandoned you, said White House spokesman Trent Duffy.

"The destruction down there looks like it just happened yesterday," Duffy said. "Which is a testament to how effective we've been in our rebuilding effort over the last five months."

Bush hasn't been to the coast since a trip to Louisiana and Mississippi October 10-11. He was initially criticized for a slow federal response to the disaster, then made eight trips to the region in six weeks, and the White House hardly went a day without an event or mention of the challenges there. Then Bush shifted to vacation mode.

"Did you see that scratch he got over his eye cutting brush?" Asked White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. "Where was FEMA then, huh? Who's going to relieve president disaster? I mean the president's disaster."

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