The Last Bush Press Conference: Marvelously Out of Touch

Bush and Reality: Never the Two Shall Meet

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

President Bush's farewell press conference was classic: Not merely was he out of touch with reality, but he was angry that reality was out of touch with him.

The first full question and answer I heard illustrates the outgoing president so well. I tuned in just before American Urban Radio Networks's April Ryan asked Bush about Hurricane Katrina. He rattled off his prepared talking points and then got ... angry. Not angry at his administration's failure in New Orleans, but at critics of it:

You know people say the federal response was slow—don't tell me the federal response was slow when there was 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed. I remember going to see those helicopter drivers, Coast Guard drivers, to thank them for their courageous efforts to rescue people off roofs—30,000 people were pulled off roofs right after the storm moved through. It's a pretty quick response. Could things have been done better? Absolutely. Absolutely. But when I hear people say, 'The federal response was slow'—what are they going to say to those chopper drivers, or the 30,000 that got pulled off the roofs?

That's cold comfort to the—what? 25,000?—people who were stuck in the Superdome. I was half-expecting him to say that Brownie did a hell of a job. And the rest of Bush's answer is typical too: Portraying critics as not being anti-Bush or anti-Bush administration but rather as attacking hard-working everyday heroes. And he wonders why the tone of Washington didn't improve during his tenure.