Bad Obama and Hurricane Katrina

Bad Obama!If you are still laughing from my previous suggestion that Peggy Noonan might be in favor of single payer healthcare reform, get ready. Talking Points Memo had Public Policy Polling (PPP) conduct a survey of Louisiana Republicans. Most of the poll was pretty standard stuff. For example, we find that the younger members of this group really like Rand Paul for president in 2016 while the older members really like Jeb Bush. But as is PPP’s wont, they threw in some crazy questions too, including, “Who do you think was more responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina: George W. Bush or Barack Obama?” You know this one’s gonna be good, right?

More Louisiana Republicans blame Barack Obama. Now this makes sense. While it is true that Obama had been in the Illinois state legislator up through the beginning of 2005, he had already been in Congress for 7 whole months at that time of the Hurricane. George W. Bush, on the other hand, was only at the end of his fifth year as president. Of course it was Obama’s fault! Isn’t everything?

In fairness, the results are close. George Bush was blamed by 28% and Obama by 29%. More striking is that 44% were just not sure. I wasn’t even especially paying attention to politics at that time, but I remember clearly who was president. I even remember, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job!” I would think that people in Louisiana would remember. But maybe it is just due to the fact that so many of the poor people in Louisiana were forced out of the state.

Drilling down into the data makes the picture clearer. Other than those few Republicans who claim to be liberal, large percentages mostly just don’t know who to blame for the terrible federal government response to Hurricane Katrina. But at least among those under 65, a distinct plurality recognize that Bush was in fact president at that time. Of course, that means among those over 65, the numbers look really bad. Of this group, 42% blame Obama for the response and only 24% blame Bush. I believe in respecting our elders (Especially as I become one!) but this is just terrible.

Now look: I understand. A large part of this is just a reflexive dislike of Obama. But I have a hard time believing that Democrats are this clueless. And I still think that Democrats are very clueless! Imagine a poll of Democrats in 1985 that asked, “Who do you think was more responsible for the poor response to the Iran hostage crisis: Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan?” I know that many liberals would bristle at the question because it is not clear that Carter’s response was poor. But I doubt that more liberals would have blamed Reagan than Carter.

This gets to the very heart of what is wrong with the Republican Party. It doesn’t particularly believe anything and so its base of voters is just against whatever the Democrats are for. As I’ve noted before, it is no longer the case that Obama is a president Republicans disagree with; he is the president who is hell bent on destroying the one true America that each Republican just somehow divines. If that really were true, their behavior would be understandable. I would like to think that I would not have been willing to compromise with Hitler. But Obama most certainly is not the America destroy of Republican myth. Obama (on economic policy at least) is a good old fashioned conservative. It is only in the Republican echo chamber that he is a pernicious threat to America. But at this point, the echo chamber seems to be the only thing the Republicans have left.

But I do hope that Obama does a better job with the next Hurricane Katrina.

Afterword

Speaking of laughing, Steve Benen very slyly noted that there is little Republicans would not blame Obama for:

More Louisiana Republicans blame Obama than Bush for the response to Katrina, which obviously don’t make sense, but I imagine if PPP asked, a non-trivial number of Louisiana Republicans would also blame the president for 9/11, Watergate, the Hindenburg disaster, the 1919 White Sox, and the U.S. Civil War.

It certainly would be for the best if Obama stopped betting on baseball.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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