Tales from the Trail

Bush memoir includes some unexpected moments

Who would have thought former President George W. Bush would publicly admit that he had actually thought of dumping Dick Cheney as his veep?

But that’s just what he does in his memoir “Decision Points,” according to my colleague Steve Holland who obtained a copy of the book which is coming out next Tuesday. PEOPLE WEST

And the worst moment of his presidency? When charges of racism were flung at him over Hurricane Katrina.

In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, to be aired on Monday, Bush says he hit an ”all-time low” after critics like rapper Kanye West said his handling of the disaster showed that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

That comment still rankles Bush. “I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now,” he tells NBC.

Laura Bush says every president faces unfair criticism

Former first lady Laura Bush says every president is unfairly criticized and it comes from both friends and foes.

She spoke to ABC’s “Good Morning America” from the Gulf Coast, where she is on a visit for the fifth anniversary of  Hurricane Katrina. USA/LAURABUSHHer husband, former President George W. Bush and his administration were sharply criticized for slow federal response to the disaster.

“The differences are huge now, five years later. Each time I came there was a little bit of improvement, but really now I think after five years things are starting to look great,” she said.

Maybe we should just call it “Katrina-slick-gate”


Is “Katrina” the “gate” of the 2000s?

The 1972 Watergate break-in spawned an army of “gates,” as the expression “whatever-gate” became shorthand for any political scandal. The subsequent decades saw “Travelgate,”  “Irangate,” “Nannygate, ”Whitewatergate” and a host of other major and minor political improprieties.

Almost 40 years later, “Katrina” has become popular political shorthand representing the slow response to a disaster, a nod toward the aftermath of  the devastating 2005 hurricane in New Orleans by then-President George W. Bush. The perception that the Republican president cared too little about the people of New Orleans to respond quickly to a hurricane that killed some 1,800 Americans was devastating to his public image, and hurt his party in the 2008 election that brought Democratic President Barack Obama to power.

Pundits have been waiting for ”Obama’s Katrina” almost since he took office in 2009.

The First Draft: Safety day – cyber security and hurricane preparedness

Though North Korea and the the looming bankruptcy of General Motors are at the top of many minds in Washington, today President Barack Obama turns his public focus to cybersecurity and hurricane preparedness.

At 11 a.m. Obama speaks at an event at the White House about the country’s cyber infrastructure. He may give some explanation of how powerful his new “cyberczar” may be – a question that has concerned the tech industry, which wants to top cybersecurity person to be based in the White House to assure access to the president.

The cybersecurity program is aimed at organizing federal agencies to better share information KATRINAand ensure better security of government computers and networks. Holes in U.S. cybersecurity defenses have allowed major incidents of identity and intellectual property theft. Sensitive military information has also reportedly been stolen by cyber-spies.

Brad Pitt tries out role as lobbyist

brad1Hollywood star Brad Pitt made the rounds in Washington on Thursday keeping a low profile while calling on some some high-profile people to promote sustainable housing.******Pitt dropped by the White House for a private meeting with President Barack Obama but the White House said there was “no read-out” on the visit.******Pitt also went to Capitol Hill to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Whip James Clyburn. He joined them for that time-honored Washington tradition: a media availability behind a bank of microphones.******Pitt thanked Pelosi for taking time to talk to him about the post-hurricane rebuilding effort going on in New Orleans, where his “Make it Right” foundation is constructing sustainable houses for low-income residents in the city’s Lower 9th Ward.***    ***Pelosi hailed Pitt as a role model. Clyburn thanked Brad for his help …  and for giving him bragging rights.******”I did not realize when the speaker asked me to chair the Katrina- Rita Task Force that it would lead to my getting in a position to make my grandchildren so envious of me because this effort brought the two of us, Brad Pitt and myself, together,” the South Carolina Democrat said.  ***   ***For the record, Pitt was flying solo on the Hill.  Angelina Jolie was making her own low-key appearance in town shooting a scene for a movie in a blond wig.

Got a hankering for some Bush history?

WASHINGTON – Hankering for a history lesson on the Bush presidency from a Democratic point of view? Then look for the “Bush Legacy Tour” bus, which will be visiting communities across the country from now until the November presidential elections. 

bushlegacybus-ext.jpgThe liberal Americans United for Change activist group launched the national tour on Tuesday with much fanfare and a lunchtime barbeque in front of the AFL-CIO union building a block away from the White House.

It’s a 28-ton, 45-foot long, bio-diesel-powered museum on wheels featuring interactive exhibits “on the worst policy failures that grew out of the Bush/conservative agenda,” touts the group.