President Bush took responsibility today for the Federal Governments problems in responding to Katrina. Presidents have historically avoided publicly accepting blame — no doubt because their opponents would predictably exploit any admission.
The question remains: Will this be perceived by the pubic as an admission of guilt? Or will President Bush be rewarded for having a Harry Truman, “The Buck Stops Here” moment? It’s hard to say. We admire Harry Truman for that quote, but it should be noted that he was extremely unpopular when he left office. Who knows? Maybe he should have blamed someone else?
In any event, Bush’s statement – along with the FEMA Director stepping down yesterday – might be the first steps toward turning this PR mess around. Dick Morris had an interesting column in The Hill last week, in which he makes the case that Bush will rebound from the Katrina controversy:
…make no mistake about it: Every day for the next year, voters will see nonstop scenes of federal relief, rebuilding, renovation and reconstruction along with the empathy, sympathy and compassion these efforts imply in the heart of George W. Bush. He may have had a terrible first week, but he will rebound big time in the months to come.
It’s a long ball game. Things are going to change. One thing I know about Bush: Just when you start to count him out – he finds a way to make a big comeback.