A national disaster gives a struggling president another chance to make his mark.
Is Hurricane Katrina the new 9/11?
The death toll almost certainly won’t approach 9/11 numbers, but the insurance industry says the financial losses could come close. Americans in Kansas and California aren’t feeling the same sort of “we could be next” vulnerability they did on that Tuesday morning four years ago — and this isn’t the first hurricane to strike the homeland — but there’s at least some sense that the country is sharing the pain of a national tragedy again. The editorial writers at the New York Times see the pictures from Louisiana and can’t help thinking of “the time after 9/11, when the rest of the nation made it clear that our city was their city, and that everyone was part of the battle to restore it.”
A little less poetically, Aaron Brooks, the quarterback of the displaced New Orleans Saints, says: “It’s not a 9/11 deal, but it has the feeling of it.”
That’s certainly what they’re hoping over at the White House. The attacks of 9/11 were very, very good for George W. Bush. His job approval ratings were sliding amid the sour economy in the weeks before the attacks, but Americans rallied around their president in the days and months afterward. Bush was able to use 9/11 to sell a war and hide the effect of his tax cuts, and he rode the often-invoked memories of 9/11 to reelection in November.
So Bush heads back to Washington today — and soon, to the scene of the disaster in Louisiana — but for what? What can Bush do for the people of New Orleans that isn’t being done already? What can he do that he couldn’t do in Crawford? Scott McClellan didn’t have much of an answer yesterday. Throughout the president’s vacation — as American soldiers were killed and political progress faltered in Iraq — the White House insisted that Bush had all the powers of the modern presidency in his command down in Crawford. So why does Bush have to return to Washington now? Isn’t it just symbolic, like standing on that firetruck and shouting in a bullhorn after 9/11?
“No, I think — no, I disagree,” McClellan said yesterday. “Like I said, this is one of the most devastating storms in our nation’s history, and the president, after receiving a further update this morning, made the decision that he wanted to get back to D.C. and oversee the response efforts from there.” Pressed on what Bush could do in Washington that he couldn’t do in Crawford, McClellan said: “We’ll talk to you all later. We’ve got to go. Thank you.”
More Related Stories
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
- Murkowski: Palin too disengaged to run for Senate
- In IRS scandal, new GOP tactic is ignorance
- Code Pink activist berates Obama at national security speech
- Cuomo: "Shame on us" if New York City elects Weiner
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11