Newsweek: Katrina’s “Ultimate Casualty Could Be President George W. Bush”

It seems as though the free passes for Bush from the media may be finally over. Newsweek reports:

Hurricane Katrina claimed her first political casualty Friday. Michael Brown, the head of FEMA, the federal disaster readiness and response agency, was sidelined from the largest disaster relief project in the nation’s history. Brown was recalled to Washington by his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. But a new NEWSWEEK Poll suggests the post-Katrina political storm may just be rising. And her ultimate casualty could be President George W. Bush.

The polls continue to plummet for Bush.

In Katrina’s wake, the president’s popularity and job-approval ratings have dropped across the board. Only 38 percent of Americans approve of the way Bush is doing his job overall, a record-low for this president in the NEWSWEEK poll. (Fifty-five percent of Americans disapprove of his overall job performance.) And only 28 percent of Americans say they are “satisfied with the way things are going” in the country, down from 36 percent in August and 46 percent in December, after the president’s re-election. This is another record low and two points below the satisfaction level recorded immediately after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal came to light. Fully two-thirds of Americans are not satisfied with the direction of the country.

Newsweek reports that “Katrina’s most costly impact could be a loss of faith in government generally, and the president, in particular.” How can we have faith in government when see such utter failure in the aftermath of Katrina.

A majority of Americans (57 percent) say “government’s slow response to what happened in New Orleans” has made them lose confidence in government’s ability to deal with another major natural disaster.

Interestingly out of those polled by Newsweek only 5% felt that the federal government did an “excellent job after the storm hit.”

Why the gloom? Forty percent of Americans say the federal government’s response to the crisis in New Orleans was poor. Thirty-two percent say it was fair; 21 percent say it was good and five percent believe it was excellent. Americans don’t think much of the local and state governments’ responses either: 35 percent say state and local officials did a poor job and 34 percent say they did a fair job; 20 percent say they did a good job and five percent say an excellent job after the storm hit.

Katrina has an impact on “how Americans rate the president personally.”

In every category, the view of the president is at all-time lows for the NEWSWEEK poll. Only 49 percent of Americans now believe the president has strong leadership qualities. The same percentage of registered voters feel that way, 49 percent—down from 63 percent the week before Bush’s reelection. Only 42 percent of Americans believe the president cares about people like them; 44 percent of registered voters feel that way—down from 50 percent the week before the election. And only 49 percent of Americans and the same percentage of registered voters believe Bush is intelligent and well-informed—down from 59 percent before the election.

More on the Newsweek poll can be found here. The latest AP-Ipsos poll is here.

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