October 23, 2007

Bush Flies to the Wildfires in SoCal

aboard Air Force One, westbound
From: P.R. Staff, White House
Date: 10/23/07

Mr. President: You have asked for our input on your important trip to Southern California, where you will meet/greet important Calif. leaders and be seen as offering fed. help to stricken area. Dana, Josh and I have met to discuss key points to hit. Some comments are based on way in which Katrina was kicked around the block in 2005. This could be redemption/payback time, and photo-ops could play key role in comeback.

First, some vocab items. "Santa" in "Santa Ana winds" is pronounced just like Santa in Santa Claus. Would urge don't multiply degree of difficulty by going all Spanish-language on it. Be local, act local. Second, wildfires are raging out of control partly because of extreme "relative humidity," in the single digit range. Would suggest respectfully stay away from atmospheric science of water-carrying capacity of warm vs. ...let's just black that out, Mr. President, and just say stuff like "dry air." Sample sentence: "We know these ferocious fires gain strength because of the very dry air, and these Santa Ana winds are challenging the good folks of this region with their ferocious strength." We've foc-group tested "ferocious" and it's a winner. Remember that "winds" when you use it like this is plural, so please stay away from phrases like "Santa Ana winds is a huge part of the ferocious attack of these killer fires." Better yet, just say "Santa Ana winds" a lot without trying to fit it into a complete sentence. It's very reassuring when locals can hear you use their day-to-day words. Part of "reg guy rehab" which has taken pounding with S-CHIP.

Next, we don't know whether the severe drought and high temperatures and Santa Anas are related to global warming, although libs of course are going to try to hang that on you. Suggest stay away from "big picture," and if comes up, turn it around on them and say that "the middle of a ferocious disaster like this is not the time to play partisan politics, but to help these good folks of California to deal with a ferocious fire which is interfering with their love of their region and their freedom to live in the kind of peace they want." We've foc-tested the play-over from Iraq war languaging, and it's a go. If you compare the fire to evil-doing Arabs, the media will back off and most Calif. politcos (Feinstein, particularly) and prob. Arnold will cool it on the attack mode.

We've set you up for a couple of copter rides within a mile or so of actual flames, so good backdrops for photo ops. Don't worry about safety. Telephoto will draw in fire and make you appear right in middle, and we'll give you hard hat with local firefighter logo, of course, but you'll be closer to Wilshire Boulevard than the fire line. You're booked at The Peninsula, btw.

We think it's a win-win, and see no big downsides. It's a big primary early in '08 this year, so Rudy & Mitt will appreciate what we can do, but of course, let's not lose focus. Your loyal staff is naturally looking at what the wildfires can do for you.

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