Members of the Bush/Cheney team remain active participants in debates over public affairs, and this morning, they’re apparently eager to draw parallels between President Bush’s failed response to Hurricane Katrina and the preliminary difficulties in the rollout of President Obama’s health care law.
“There are moments in a presidency where everything is different afterward and I believe this is that moment,” former Bush communications adviser Nicolle Wallace said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “For us, it was Hurricane Katrina because while public support had been dropping for the war in Iraq, after Katrina, after many members of the public and every member of the Democratic Party viewed us as incompetent and it transcended to everything else we did.“You know, you can’t look in a crystal ball but I believe this is a moment after which everything will be different for the President,” Wallace added. “And if you look at the problems he’s facing in the world, with Iran and other issues, he’s going to miss his credibility very much.”Can President Obama reclaim that credibility, host Joe Scarborough asked Wallace. “Among large numbers of the public, no,” she said.
Peter Feaver, a top national security official for Bush/Cheney, told the New York Times, “The echoes to the fall of 2005 are really eerie. Katrina, which is shorthand for bungled administration policy, matches to the rollout of the website.” Looking back, he added, “we can see that some of the things that we hoped were temporary or just blips turned out to be more systemic from a political sense. It’s a fair question of whether that’s happening to President Obama.”
Look, comparing a deadly natural disaster to a health care law that will bring coverage to millions, saving countless lives, is insane. For that matter, condemning the Obama administration for failing to implement a health care policy properly is premature when the process is still just now getting underway.
But what the loyal Bushies are really trying to do is making a purely political argument. They’re making the case, in effect, that Katrina was a turning point for Bush/Cheney – the moment at which the White House’s standing took a turn for the worse and never recovered – and President Obama may be witnessing a similar turning point now.
In other words, Bushies are rushing to the media to make predictions about future poll results. Given that their former boss saw his support fall to Nixon-at-Watergate levels, I hope they won’t be offended if I take their polling prognostications with a grain of salt.
Besides, how can they know? How can anyone know? Over the last five years, there have been plenty of related predictions – “Obama can’t possibly recover from [fill in the blank with the hullabaloo of the day]” – many of which look rather foolish now.
If the administration fails to get the health care system on track, the president’s standing will likely deteriorate further. If the administration succeeds in implementing the Affordable Care Act, the political world will move on to the Next Big Thing. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. That’s unsatisfying, but it’s more reliable than hollow speculation about unpredictable surveys that haven’t been conducted.
Postscript: Former Vice President Dick Cheney is also making predictions about future polling, based on his belief that the president “lied.” That’s right, Dick Cheney wants to talk about honesty in the White House. Irony weeps.