The president may finally be finding something close to the right tone to strike on Katrina -- he has started referring to the storm's victims as Americans rather than as "folks" from "this part of the world" -- but that doesn't mean that his supporters and apologists are.
We told you earlier today about the "Let them eat cake" insensitivity of the president's mother and the high-fiving that's apparently going on along the antiabortion, hard-right fringe. Now comes a hot blast of nastiness from the editor in chief of the Washington Times -- a paper that was just a few days ago wondering what happened to the stand-up, take-charge guy who led the nation after 9/11.
In a column posted today, the paper's editor in chief says that the "vultures of the venomous left" ought to lay off old George W. Bush. The president's critics, Wesley Pruden writes, "can't believe their great good luck, that a hurricane, of all things, finally gives them the opening they've been waiting for to heap calumny and scorn on him for something that might get a little traction." Pruden says Cindy Sheehan is "yesterday news" and couldn't attract a camera crew if she stripped naked down in Crawford, Texas; Katrina is the new darling of the left.
That's just the warm-up.
Pruden has harsh words for New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (he kept the city's school buses "locked in neat rows when there was still time to take refugees to higher ground"); for Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco (her "dithering opened the way for looters, rapists and killers to make New Orleans an unholy hell"); and for Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (she "seems to think she's cute when she's mad"). The Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are "race hustlers" and "self-appointed ambassadors of ill will," Pruden says, but he seems to take some solace in the notion that the two of them and other members of the "nutcake left" aren't having much of an effect on how Americans view their president.
He may be getting ahead of himself there. While a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Friday had the nation evenly split on the president's handling of Katrina -- itself a remarkable fact, given the way Americans usually come together behind their president in times of crisis -- a Survey USA poll released over the weekend had Americans disapproving of the way Bush is handling Katrina by a margin of 55 percent to 38 percent.