Katrina is a "regional" concern. Let's talk about 9/11

The GOP plan for dueling anniveraries.

Published August 23, 2006 1:05PM (EDT)

The Wall Street Journal on the GOP's political strategy for dealing with the dueling anniversaries of Katrina and 9/11: "The administration's broad aim will be to keep the focus on the future. 'Clearly these are times to reflect and remember, but they are also times to consider the future and a path forward to deal with disasters that hit our shores, whether they be natural or man-made,' said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. Republican campaign strategists also say they hope that national outrage over the disaster has faded and that -- terrible as it was -- the reconstruction is now basically a regional concern.

"Then Republicans can pivot to the Sept. 11 anniversary."

As the Journal says, the 9/11 focus is a gamble for the Republicans. Having led the country into a broadly unpopular war in Iraq -- and having failed, five years later, to have captured Osama bin Laden -- the president and his party can't play the security card with the confidence they once did. But Katrina? It's a bad bet for sure. As the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato tells the Journal, "If you go back and look at the declines in Bush's ratings, it was Katrina that delivered the knockout punch. It destroyed the image that re-elected him -- the image of leadership, the image of someone who was competent even if you didn't agree with his directions."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2006 Elections 9/11 War Room