Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Politics of Katrina

A co-worker asked me today, "where has Bush been on the New Orleans situation?" This guy is a smart, fairly non-political guy, just a normal guy without an agenda who wants to know where the president is in this time of crisis.

If Bush has learned one thing from his presidency it's that how leaders act in times of crisis really resonates with people and can make or break one's popularity and relevance. Something else he must know is that his numbers have been going in a downward direction, especially on the old "in touch/out of touch" spectrum. So what does he do? Goes golfing on Monday, makes a speech about Iraq for almost an hour on Tuesday in which he mentions the devastation in New Orleans for a mere 1 minute 20 seconds (and asks us merely to pray) and decides to cut his vacation short by 2 days on Wednesday while he surveys the destruction from 5,000 feet.

So whether he really is on top of this and whether he really does care, another lesson he must have taken away over the last few years is that perception equals reality. Now, not only has the left wing media predictably ranted against Bush's lack of action, but even Jack Cafferty on CNN suggested curtly that perhaps returning to work would be a good idea (don't worry, George, Wolf came to your defense!) And now my common man co-worker is wondering where he is...why hasn't he made a statement to the nation. You're losing this war too, George.

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