|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
He did not stray far from his script nor venture out of his motorcade as it sped past some of the worst destruction in the Lower Ninth Ward, where rows of gutted homes stood along deserted streets.
Instead, in a series of upbeat events designed to underscore progress, Mr. Bush struck an optimistic — and at times almost defiant — tone. He portrayed the anniversary as a starting point, deflecting questions about slow results. And although he faced several challenges throughout the day, including a large banner that read “Bush Failure” as his motorcade passed, Mr. Bush kept his focus on future improvements. He met privately with several residents, but the White House did not disclose their conversations.
Away from the presidential tour, there was private weeping at some of the ruins of the Lower Ninth Ward, and at City Hall bereaved family members signed a giant banner with hundreds of fleurs-de-lis, the city’s symbol, one for each victim. At 9:38 a.m., Mayor C. Ray Nagin sounded a large silver bell on the City Hall steps to mark a catastrophic early levee breach.
Huddling with loved ones at home, attending a ceremony in the heat or simply working on their houses, the city’s citizens, it seemed, were reflecting Tuesday on the disaster one year ago that altered a way of life here for a long while, if not forever.
After spending the night at his ranch, Mr. Bush will spend the rest of this week shifting his focus away from Hurricane Katrina and back toward another landmark of his presidency, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He is scheduled to make campaign stops in Arkansas and Tennessee on Wednesday before delivering what is expected to be a major address on terrorism in Salt Lake City on Thursday.
Mr. Bush had at least one exchange with a local resident that made reference to the flawed response last year, and his role in it.
As Mr. Bush squeezed through tables at a pancake house where he ate breakfast, , a waitress asked, “Mr. President, are you going to turn your back on me?”
“No, ma’am,” he replied, with a laugh and a pause. “Not again.”
Some of you still don't know whether you have a neighborhood to come back to. Others of you who made the decision to return are living in trailers. Many are separated from their loved ones, and simply long just go to church on a Sunday afternoon with somebody you care about. Many of you find yourself without jobs, and struggling to make do without the convenience of a supermarket nearby. Many fear for your safety because of violent criminals. The challenge is not only to help rebuild, but the challenge is to help restore the soul.
I take full responsibility for the federal government's response, and a year ago I made a pledge that we will learn the lessons of Katrina and that we will do what it takes to help you recover. (Applause.) I've come back to New Orleans to tell you the words that I spoke on Jackson Square are just as true today as they were then.
I swear, if I were in NOLA, I’d be having pancakes for breakfast every single day for a month, just to keep giving that woman a big ole tip.