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Partisan Squabble or Dereliction of Duty?

"Now, just 48% of Americans say Bush has strong qualities of leadership -- the lowest number ever for the President in this poll.

"Moreover, just 32% express 'a lot' of confidence in the President's ability to handle a crisis. This is a sharp change from four years ago when, in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, 66% expressed 'a lot' of confidence in Bush's ability to handle a crisis."

The poll finds Bush's overall approval rating "virtually unchanged from last week" at 42 percent.

Losing His Footing?

David Gregory writes in an NBC blog: "In the nearly six years I have covered this President, I'm not sure I've seen him at such a critical impasse. Tuesday we saw day one of a White House trying to match the level of engagement it had after the 9/11 attacks. This time, however, there is no rallying around the flag. Instead, the President is on the defensive and under pressure to fire those responsible for managing a crisis of this dimension. Even more frightening is the question on every American's mind: Could the government handle a massive terror strike - the kind that Vice President Cheney and others warn us about?"

Bill Straub summarizes Bush's missteps for the Scripps Howard News Service.

Bill Adair writes in the St. Petersburg Times: "President Bush has worked hard to avoid the mistakes of his father. . . .

"But in responding to Hurricane Katrina, Bush seems to have forgotten the lessons of Hurricane Andrew, the South Florida storm that was a black eye for his father. . . .

"The lessons of Andrew were that the feds should communicate better with the states, that the federal government should be ready to move in swiftly with plenty of resources after a storm and that bureaucracy should not hamper the recovery.

"But those lessons seem to be forgotten."

Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey write on Newsweek.com: "Over the last five and a half years, President George W. Bush has developed his own theory of good government and successful democracies: it's all about the potholes. They're not always real potholes, of course. But they are real-life problems that all officials-from presidents down to mayors-have to fix, or else face the wrath of the voters. So whenever he delivers a speech with a mayor in attendance, Bush offers this unsolicited advice: 'Fix the potholes.' . . .

"Bush may not be running for office again, but this is his pothole moment."

Or Regaining His Footing?

Nina J. Easton writes in the Boston Globe: "Reeling from criticism of President Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina, some Republican strategists are invoking a comparison with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when initial concern over the president's response gave way to widespread respect for his leadership. . . .


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