Again and again Monday, we heard CNN's Bill Schneider say that an ABC News/Washington Post Poll shows that Americans aren't ready to blame George W. Bush for the federal government's slow response to the Hurricane Katrina.
It's true that the poll didn't show a majority of Americans disapproving of the president's efforts on Katrina, but a within-the-margin-of-error plurality did: Forty-seven percent of respondents said they disapproved of Bush's Katrina efforts while 46 percent said they approved. Given the way most of the president's poll numbers have looked lately -- his overall approval rating is floating in the 40 to 45 percent range -- maybe a 47-46 split should be considered some kind of victory.
But before Karl Rove breathes a sigh of relief -- and we know that he isn't -- it might be wise to keep these poll results in perspective: In a USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll taken not long after 9/11, 88 percent of the public approved of the job Bush was doing. Americans rally around their president at times of disaster. They aren't doing it this time, at least not yet.