The White House is taking issue with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s account of a conversation with President Bush yesterday. After a White House meeting, Pelosi said that the president is “oblivious” to and “in denial” about the problems following Hurricane Katrina. That became clear, Pelosi said, when she recounted how she urged Bush to fire FEMA chief Michael Brown.
“He said, ‘Why would I do that?’” Pelosi, quoting the president, told reporters.
“I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn’t go right last week,” Pelosi said. “And he said, ‘What didn’t go right?’”
Pelosi then said Bush’s comments showed that the president was “oblivious, in denial, dangerous.”
At today’s White House briefing, press secretary Scott McClellan was asked about Pelosi’s comments. “I’d like to know if you know if that’s an accurate portrayal of the conversation,” McClellan was asked.
“No, it’s not,” McClellan answered, “because they discussed a lot of other things. And I think the president was just wanting to know what she — what she was most concerned about.”
“So it wasn’t as if he knew — he didn’t know, wasn’t aware that things had gone wrong?”
“Well, Terry, I just updated you on the president’s day; I updated you yesterday,” said McClellan. “You are all well aware of how engaged the president is in the response efforts…The president, very clearly to you all, over the last few days has talked about how he is not satisfied. I just said at the beginning of this how he is not satisfied. There are ongoing problems on the ground, and that’s why we’re working to address those issues.”