"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," Thomas writes.
In this sort of environment, Bush apparently didn't fathom the extent of the catastrophe in the Gulf Coast for more than three days after the levees of New Orleans were breached.
"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.
"How this could be -- how the president of the United States could have even less 'situational awareness,' as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century -- is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace.
Among Thomas's disclosures: "Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him. . . ."
I mean, Jesus. He’s like a teenager who’s in way over his head. It wouldn’t be surprising if he had a complete meltdown in public.