Sunday :: Sep 2, 2007

August 2005: How George Bush Went On Vacation and It Ended In Disaster

by Mary

In August 2005, George W. Bush took the longest vacation of any United States President. Having won the 2004 election which he felt vindicated both his presidency and his war in Iraq, he had thought he earned time away from the job. Because you know, presidenting is an awfully hard job to do.

President Bush, getting ready to fly to his ranch with dog Barney, said the day before: "No matter how hot it gets, I enjoy spending time in Texas." (By Duane A. Laverty -- Associated Press)

Tuesday, August 2, 2005: Vacationing Bush Poised to Set a Record

Spokespersons report that although George W. Bush was beginning a five week vacation, people should rest assured that he’d still be taking care of business while spending time re-invigorating his body and mind.

Saturday, August 6, 2005: Of the Many Deaths in Iraq, One Mother's Loss Becomes a Problem for the President

Yet, soon, the messy life and messy war he’d left behind began to intrude into his sanctuary.

Cindy Sheehan paces on a road Sunday near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex. She vows to wait until he talks to her or leaves the ranch. (By Larry Downing -- Reuters)

President Bush rides his bike with a group of journalists at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, on Saturday. (White House photo by Eric Draper))

Saturday, August 13, 2005: One rule for Peloton One: Don't pass the president

Yet, the President found ways to ignore the annoying distractions and to find things that would make this vacation memorable.

As he said when asked about his priorities: "I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say," he says. "But it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life.

"The people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy. And part of my being is to be outside exercising. So I'm mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live, and will do so."

Friday, August 19, 2005: Congratulations President Bush: You Broke the Record!!!

Bush officially sets the record for most days off for a sitting President, easily beating out previous record-holder, President Ronald Reagan, who totaled up 335 days spread over 8 years. And with another 3 years to go for Bush at that time, just think of the bar that he could set. It would take someone of much greater stamina than him to outdo his new record.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005: The work-life balance for 'nation's CEO'

Reports of Bush’s remarkable fitness are widespread in the American press as he finds time to renew his mind, body and spirit. Americans are told that Bush’s balance of work and vacation are healthy ideals for others to follow.

Supporters say Bush brings a refreshing degree of proportionality to the many demands on his time. At the White House, he is early to bed, early to rise, and he runs meetings with West Point punctuality - habits in sharp contrast to his often tardy and workaholic predecessor, Bill Clinton.

“The president brings the same sensibility to his ranch, renewing mind, body, and spirit with sweaty stints of brush clearing, mountain biking, and fishing - on top of speeches, fundraisers, intelligence briefings, and policy huddles with aides and officials.

OFF DUTY AT THE RANCH: President Bush often mountain bikes and drives a pickup truck at his Crawford, Texas, ranch where he vacations in August. The president advocates finding a balance between work and rest. (PHOTOS BY ERIC DRAPER/THE WHITE HOUSE/AP/FILE)

Saturday, August 27, 2005: Bush’s Long Hot Summer

Yet, even biking with Lance Armstrong can’t keep the world from intruding and more problems needing attention continue to arise.

This has been a tough summer for the Bush Administration. While the President tries to relax on his five week Texas vacation, he's had to contend with deteriorating military and political conditions in Iraq, a Woodstock-like peace protest at the edge of his Crawford compound led by Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan, declining public opinion polls (that are echoed by "even worse" internal polling, says one Bush adviser), high oil prices and a recognition that things are not likely to turn around anytime soon. A senior Bush official attributes the president's collapsing poll numbers to "high gas prices and a lot of anxiety about the war" and acknowledges "that's not likely to change anytime soon." A cruel summer is likely to fade into an autumn of discontent as congressmen like Jones come back to Washington having heard complaints from constituents.

Sunday, August 28, 2005: President Discusses Hurricane Katrina, Congratulates Iraqis on Draft Constitution

One very nasty problem was aiming straight at New Orleans, and the vacationing Bush took time to hear about the impending landfall of this monster storm. President Bush got an update from Max Mayfield from the Hurricane Center about how dangerous this storm could be. Yet even then, Bush knew he’d already done his part because after all, he put Brownie in charge and now it was his job to look after the details.

Monday, August 29, 2005: 2005: Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans

Katrina hits New Orleans, levies break, Bush continues with his planned itinerary.

President George W. Bush joins Arizona Senator John McCain in a small celebration of McCain's 69th birthday Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, after the President's arrival at Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix. The President later spoke about Medicare to 400 guests at the Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort and Country Club in nearby El Mirage. (White House photo by Paul Morse)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005: President Commemorates 60th Anniversary of V-J Day

President Bush plays a guitar presented to him by Country Singer Mark Wills, right, backstage following his visit to Naval Base Coronado, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Bush visited the base to deliver remarks on V-J Commemoration Day. (AP Photo/ABC News, Martha Raddatz)

Despite the growing catastrophe in New Orleans, Bush continues his planned stops, delivering pre-planned speeches and finds time to accept a guitar from Country Singer Mark Wills.

Yet, others in the administration knew that what was happening in New Orleans was serious enough to preempt the planned vacation activities.
From Newsweek (emphasis mine):

It's a standing joke among the president's top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? Warm and hearty in public, Bush can be cold and snappish in private, and aides sometimes cringe before the displeasure of the president of the United States, or, as he is known in West Wing jargon, POTUS. The bad news on this early morning, Tuesday, Aug. 30, some 24 hours after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New Orleans, was that the president would have to cut short his five-week vacation by a couple of days and return to Washington. The president's chief of staff, Andrew Card; his deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin; his counselor, Dan Bartlett, and his spokesman, Scott McClellan, held a conference call to discuss the question of the president's early return and the delicate task of telling him. Hagin, it was decided, as senior aide on the ground, would do the deed.

President George W. Bush looks out over the devastation in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina as he heads back to Washington D.C. Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005, aboard Air Force One. White House photo by Paul Morse

Wednesday, August 31, 2005: Bush cuts vacation short (by two days) and heads back to Washington. Air Force One routed over New Orleans so Bush can view the scene from above.

Bush saw the damage, but did he really comprehend the problem?

Thursday, September 1, 2005: Newsweek reported:

The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.

One assumes that finally after viewing the reports his staffers put together, he understood the magnitude of the disaster. Yet, understanding it didn’t translate into action that would help the people in that area as it took days more to rescue the survivors from New Orleans and years more to understand no help was coming to rebuild the levies or communities.

So ended the longest vacation of George W. Bush as sitting president. But our long nightmare of having this man, so incapable of understanding or caring about anyone else still goes on. Two years after that horrific storm, too many people in the path of the storm still have no home and have lost hope, and our long, long war grinds on. But boy, isn’t it nice to have a President in such good shape?

Mary :: 5:00 AM :: Comments (23) :: Digg It!