WASHINGTON, Sep. 12
Previously, on The Note:
It looked like some shoes were going to drop.
And some did: Mike Brown was dispatched; several national polls showed POTUS decline (as the Gang of 500 had predicted); and the Casa Blanca effort to fuse 9/11 and Katrina began.
And/but some shoes are still poised to hit the ground: a major presidential address is on the way; and a reconstruction czar appears in the offing.
Always allowing for the unexpected, planned events alone will account for a big week in our shared world: the Roberts hearings kick off at noon today and continue all week; the President has more Katrina touring today and he is at the United Nations midweek; the first congressional hearings on hurricane aftermath are planned; Bill Clinton's Clinton Global Initiative (a/k/a "ClintonFest") rocks Gotham; and Friday is the National Day of Prayer.
While Democrats continue to quietly and gleefully declare the end of the Bush presidency -- and investigative reporters settle in for months and months of dove-tailing on-going work -- the White House recalibrates everything, looking to restore equilibrium.
Below you will see coverage of the two big stories (Katrina and SCOTUS), but the most important reporting of the cycle comes from freshly minted Time scribe Mike Allen, whose debut piece is indescribably delicious.
In deconstructing the causes of the Bush Administrations slow-on-the-uptake Katrina response, Allen writes this:
"A ... factor, aides and outside allies concede, is what many of them see as the President's increasing isolation. Bush's bubble has grown more hermetic in the second term, they say, with fewer people willing or able to bring him bad news -- or tell him when he's wrong." LINK
"Bush has never been adroit about this. A youngish aide who is a Bush favorite described the perils of correcting the boss. 'The first time I told him he was wrong, he started yelling at me,' the aide recalled about a session during the first term. 'Then I showed him where he was wrong, and he said, "All right. I understand. Good job." He patted me on the shoulder. I went and had dry heaves in the bathroom. . .'"
"The result is a kind of echo chamber in which good news can prevail over bad -- even when there is a surfeit of evidence to the contrary."
"For example, a source tells TIME that four days after Katrina struck, Bush himself briefed his father and former President Clinton in a way that left too rosy an impression of the progress made. 'It bore no resemblance to what was actually happening,' said someone familiar with the presentation."
These blind quotes contain information from conversations with the President that reflects badly on him -- something that rarely happens in this White House and something this President can't stand.
Which leads to two questions for the President and Andy Card: do you know who leaked these things, and do you know why they leaked them?
The Note remains on guard to observe tipping points, page turning, blame gaming, and dry heaving. But let's not impatiently jump to any conclusions just yet. There is a lot of stuff to play out here over time. Don't rush it.
And, thus, your Roberts related daybook items:
At 10 am ET, Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY) holds a press conference in the "Senate Swamp" with Ed Meese, Jay Sekulow, Leonard Leo, and Brigida Benitez. (If you don't know who all those people are, you are simply not paying enough attention.)