May 31, 2010

Comparing the Gulf oil spill to Katrina doesn't explain the amount of damage being done to Barack Obama's presidency if you believe a new meme that is circulating in the media.

President Bush was already in his second term when his government responded so poorly to Katrina hitting the Gulf coast. The poor response could hardly be blamed for destroying an already crippled president in his second term.

Conservatives have now picked up the talking point that the oil spill is equivalent to the Iranian hostage crisis that is credited with destroying President Jimmy Carter's presidency.

George Will advanced the idea Sunday.

"I think the danger isn't that this is his Katrina. It's that it's his Iranian hostage crisis," Will told ABC's Jake Tapper.

"That happened to Carter in his first and it turned out only term. So it wasn't like Katrina which was sort of beside the point, Bush was a spent force by then anyway and it reinforced the perception, people said Carter is well meaning, they like him, intelligent fellow but maybe he isn't up to the job and the jury is still out on that for Barack Obama," said Will.

Another conservative voice, Chris Wallace, also echoed the talking point.

"I spoke with a top Democratic strategist this week who said he really thinks it's more Obama's Iranian hostage crisis in the fact it's dragging out over time and there is a question if he should be fairly blamed for it, but the public is going to become increasingly frustrated and they will blame the president for somehow not fixing it," Wallace said on Fox News Sunday.

But the meme may have been started by a pundit that is often friendly to the president. Following Obama's Thursday news conference, Chris Matthews criticized the Commander in Chief for not seizing control of the disaster.

"I think this is more like the Iranian hostage crisis that brought down Jimmy Carter than Katrina," he said.

The following day a Reuters blogger furthered the thought.

"Then the problem isn’t Obama’s Katrina, it is his Iranian hostage crisis — a long-term problem he has no control over that continually drains his political capital and popularity," wrote James Pethokoukis.

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