Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Stop the Flashbacks!

Two and a half years ago President Bush asked his Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend to conduct a "robust" investigation into the White House's response to Hurricane Katrina. Down Pennsylania Avenue, The Carlyle Group struggled mightily to keep their good name. Their LifeCare affiliate lost 24 patients in the aftermath of the storm.

Norman Pearlstine, the ex-Time Inc. chief did a remarkable job keeping the Carlyle connection quiet. No media groups asked why America's preeminent private equity firm couldn't manage a rescue of stranded patients. Was it Carlyle's influence or just sheer luck that Fran omitted any mention of the hospital with the highest death toll in her Lessons Learned report?

Fast forward to this week's news, and I'm not talking about the parallels between Burma's go it alone, foot dragging military junta and George Bush. Do you recall the footage of our President telling a few Mississippi citizens to go to the local Salvation Army for help? "But sir, it's gone," came the reply. Offers of international aid poured in, while Condi Rice purchased expensive shoes in a New York City buying spree.

But this morning's flashbacks came courtesy of Fran and Norman. Both made career moves. Norman left The Carlyle Group to join Bloomberg LP as Chief Content Officer. Funny, in my blogging, Bloomberg is the only site that came close to rattling Carlyle's chains. Reporter Jason Kelly recently reported on a few of Carlyle's stumbles. I wonder if similar stories will make it past Bloomberg's new Chief Content Officer? Doubtful, if he left the firm on good terms.

And Fran, who so kindly omitted Carlyle's newest affiliate from her Katrina Lessons Learned report, what came of her? President Bush appointed her to his Presidential Intelligence Advisory Board. Then rumors flew of her hiring at CNN, but her commenter role was officially confirmed only yesterday. Over the weekend, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced her new advisory position to their CEO. What kind of "intelligence" does it take to land these plum positions? Apparently, just the kind that makes your boss or employer look good.

Speaking of intelligence, President Bush just rued the flawed Iraq WMD data that led to the invasion in 2003. BBC News reported the U.S. Chief Executive's perspective:

He said intelligence communities across the world had shared the same assessment. "And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was."

I certainly can related to Bush's disappointment. I was shocked to read the White House Lessons Learned report and find no mention of LifeCare's 24 patient deaths. Some people might accuse George of having Fran create a whitewash report, but the President doesn't care what citizens think.

"Popularity is fleeting... principles are forever," Mr Bush said. Yes, Mr. President, the world continues to see arrogant, self centered leaders who use violence to solve problems, cannot admit mistakes, nor ask for help. Let's hope it doesn't go on forever.