Battered by Katrina, Bush Finds Hope In Contrition
Republican strategists predict that President Bush's prime-time address last week will cause at least a small improvement in his job-approval ratings. "People love a plan," said one senior GOP strategist. And citing Bush's acceptance of responsibility for the initial federal missteps, he added: "It's contrition--and people like that." But White House aides say that they aren't expecting big changes in Bush's poll numbers soon. Indeed, one former GOP White House official called the speech a "tourniquet."
Meanwhile, informal advisers to the White House fret that President Bush and his inner circle are too isolated--he gets his information from just a handful of trusted advisers. "There's no one with the nerve to tell the president when things are not going well," says a GOP strategist who formerly worked in the administration. "You saw that on Social Security, and you saw it in dealing with Katrina." Complains another Washington insider and Bush supporter: "The president is getting bad information. Maybe the Katrina disaster will make him realize the problem."
With Kenneth T. Walsh, Paul Bedard and Thomas Omestad
This story appears in the September 26, 2005 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.