In the midst of the hurricane devastation, the folks at NBC's "Today" seemed a bit too smiley for a Monday morning as they kept reporting that President Bush's approval ratings had hit an "all-time low." "Have you seen the AP poll? How about the Zogby poll? Did we mention "all-time low," they wondered?
If Republicans were asking themselves when the Cindy Sheehan publicity festival would end, they got their answer: when the next Bush-trashing media opportunity suggested itself.
It's not political rocket science to figure that job approval ratings of a president might dip after the bungled government response to the flooding of New Orleans. But how badly did the feds botch their initial response, and how much of that was the president's fault? It didn't matter. In the eyes of a news media that institutionally despises the man, Bush was the Bungler-in-Chief, and they grasped the opportunity to turn a natural disaster into a political disaster for the White House.
One obvious reality in all the hurricane coverage is the liberal media's love for government action. It took only about 24 hours for Chris Matthews to start lecturing America that all those people who think there should be less government and lower taxes should realize that this is why we need super-sized statism, because only the federal government has the resources and "the manpower, I mean person power" to handle disasters.
The anti-Republican/pro-Big Government bias is so predictable. In the spring of 1997, a massive snowfall led to flooding and levee-breaking in North Dakota. Nobody blamed Bill Clinton's administration for not realizing the levees were going to break. The political games didn't start until summer, when the congressional GOP suicidally tried to hold up some flood aid to get political concessions out of the White House. It was quickly used against them. They quickly became the callous haters of disaster victims.
ABC's John Cochran lamented: "Flood victims in Grand Forks do not understand why Republican leaders refuse to pass an aid bill without strings attached." A flood victim elaborated with vigor: "The river took our home, our possessions, our neighbors, our neighborhood and we still have our spirit. But the government is taking our spirit and our strength. And that's what's going to kill us."
According to the nightly news, natural disasters present a fine opportunity to suggest that when Republicans try to limit government, they are obviously out to kill somebody.