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What Relief Effort Is David Broder Watching?

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Today, the Dean of the D.C. press corps has his say on the political ramifications of the American catastrophe named Hurricane Katrina. No doubt monitoring the horrific scenes from New Orleans like the rest of us -- bodies floating face down, rampant looting tearing the city apart -- the Washington Post's David Broder, toasted as one of the Beltway's most prudent observers, surveys the landscape and comes to the obvious political conclusion that Katrina has provided an unique opportunity for Bush.

That's right, the week-long scenes of historic death and destruction in the streets of New Orleans could represent good news for the Commander in Chief. Here's Broder making his case:

"It took almost no time for President Bush to put his stamp on the national response to the tragedy that has befallen New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, a reminder that modern communications have reshaped the constitutional division of powers in our government in ways that the Founding Fathers never could have imagined."

There's not debate that Bush "put his stamp" on the Katrina relief effort. But Broder pretends Bush's "stamp" has been positive, or at least is still unfolding. He continues:

"Because the commander in chief is also the communicator in chief, when a crisis emerges the nation's eyes turn to him as to no other official. We cannot yet calculate the political fallout from Hurricane Katrina and its devastating human and economic consequences, but one thing seems certain: It makes the previous signs of political weakness for Bush, measured in record-low job approval ratings, instantly irrelevant and opens new opportunities for him to regain his standing with the public."

You read that correctly; Broder suggests the devastation in New Orleans "opens new opportunities" for Bush to rebound in the polls. Keep in mind, this column was published six days after the hurricane destroyed New Orleans, and three days after the federal government became buried in a torrent of outrage over its colossal failure to help the decimated city.

Broder does concede that providing relief for natural disasters can be tricky. "But," he emphasizes, "for a president who believes that actions speak louder than words, this is an advantageous setting." [Emphasis added.]

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