The Mississippi coast was hit harder by Katrina than New Orleans was. And although New Orleans' levee failure was a unique problem - one the local leadership ignored for decades - the devastation in Mississippi was in many respects more severe. And you know what? Mississippi has the same federal government as Louisiana, and reconstruction there is going gangbusters while, after more than $120 billion in federal spending, New Orleans remains a basket case. Here's a wacky idea: Maybe it's not all Bush's fault.
Then, of course, there's the war on terror. Democrats love to note that Bush hasn't caught Osama bin Laden yet, as if this is the most vital metric for success. Yes, it'd be nice to catch bin Laden - no doubt Ramsey Clark, the top legal gun for both LBJ and Saddam Hussein, will be looking for a new client soon. But even nicer than catching bin Laden is not having thousands of dead Americans in New York, Washington and L.A. Contrary to all expert predictions, there hasn't been a successful attack on the homeland since 9/11. Indeed, the current issue of the Atlantic Monthly contains a long, exhaustively reported cover story by James Fallows about how the U.S. is, in fact, winning the war on terror, thanks largely to Bush's policies (though Fallows works hard not to credit Bush).
Political dissatisfaction with the president rests entirely on Iraq and overall Bush fatigue. The rest amounts to little more than Iraq-motivated brickbats gussied up to look like freestanding complaints. That's how hate works: It looks for more excuses to hate in the same way that fire looks for more stuff to burn.
That's why Bush's Democratic critics flit about like bilious butterflies, exploiting each superficial or transient problem just long enough to score some points in the polls, then moving on. Bush's Medicare plan was an egregious corporate giveaway, they cried, until seniors overwhelmingly reported that they like it. And the Patriot Act? Can anyone even remember what the Democrats were whining about? I think it had something to do with libraries that were never searched.
Look, things could obviously be a lot better. But they could be a lot worse too. John Kerry could be president.