Bush: Katrina flyover a ‘huge mistake’
Former President George W. Bush said it was a “huge mistake” for him to have been photographed during a flyover trip over New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Bush acknowledged the famous photograph showing him looking out the window of Air Force One at the damage in New Orleans made him seem detached from the disaster on the ground that was caused by the massive Hurricane.
Bush said the photo, which became a symbol of his administration’s response to Katrina, made him look “detached and uncaring, no question about it.”
“It’s always my fault. I mean, I was the one who should have said: ‘A) Don’t take my picture, B) Let’s land in Baton Rouge, La., C) Let’s don’t even come close to the area.’ The next place to be seen is in Washington at a command center. I mean it was my fault,” Bush told NBC’s Matt Lauer in a special to air Monday evening marking the release of the former president’s new book, “Decision Points.”
Bush faced heavy criticism for his administration’s response to the hurricane’s devastation in New Orleans. Critics said the president was slow to recognize and respond to the massive disaster on the Gulf Coast.
Bush said he wished, in retrospect, that he had landed in New Orleans. He didn’t at the time for fear that first responders would have been forced to handle his arrival instead of disaster relief.
“In retrospect, however, I should have touched down in Baton Rouge, met with the governor and walked out and said, ‘I hear you. We understand. And we’re going to help the state and help the local governments with as much resources as needed,'” Bush said. “And then got back on a flight up to Washington. I did not do that. And paid a price for it.”