Thursday, January 1, 2009

Final Nail

In the Bush Administration coffin:

Bush pollster and strategist Matthew Dowd: "Katrina to me was the tipping point. The president broke his bond with the public. Once that bond was broken, he no longer had the capacity to talk to the American public. State of the Union addresses? It didn't matter. Legislative initiatives? It didn't matter. P.R.? It didn't matter. Travel? It didn't matter."

White House communications director Dan Bartlett: "Politically, it was the final nail in the coffin."
In any situation when you operate under a vague but undeniable contract of trust with a group of people (in this case, the American public), there is a tipping point where there are fewer people making excuses for you or defending and redefining your actions in their own arguments than there are people who feel you have failed them and betrayed the power they granted you.

Bush pushed early and was given a pass, but by the time Katrina hit land, he was on tenuous ground with the more rational factions of the public. His administrations failure to place the people of New Orleans first and respond effectively to a crisis the entire country was watching play out in great detail on their teevees each morning served as a confirmation to what many suspected but were hoping to never confirm:

The President could not lead.

Hindsight is 20/20, but I'm still blaming a lot of this on John Kerry and his campaign advisors. We need to take our Presidential nominees and campaigns much more seriously. It matters. I'm hopeful still that the new life the 2008 Obama Campaign Machine has injected into the world of high level campaigning allows such a shift in American's attitudes toward expectations from candidates.

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