Can President Bush make a comeback? That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo".
The poll numbers after Katrina show the president's job approval slipping below 40 percent, which is in Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon territory. If Mr. Bush continues to fall, he will be handcuffed for the next three years in getting his programs passed, his policies implemented.
The anti-Bush press is sensing blood. Reliable Bush basher E.J. Dionne (search) is not only attacking the president, but anyone he considers sympathetic to Mr. Bush — like me.
Writing in The Washington Post, Dionne says, "Fox's Bill O'Reilly devoted one of his 'Talking Points Memos' to denouncing [Mayor] Nagin and [Governor] Blanco. True, he was 'fair and balanced' in devoting a single sentence in his speech of roughly 500 words to Bush's role: 'the Homeland Security office and President Bush were 24 hours late in taking decisive action.' Thanks for that, Bill."
Well, don't mention it, E.J. Just like you didn't mention the other three "Talking Points Memos" where I criticized the Bush administration, and dozens of other times in on-air conversations. Strange how you would admit that, E.J., but that's what I've come to expect from you. You couldn't recognize the truth if it popped out of your latte. Your liberal ideology has overwhelmed your analytical capabilities.
The truth is that FOX News and “The Factor” have placed appropriate blame and reported accurately about Katrina.
There's no question President Bush did not fulfill the leadership role Americans expect in a disaster like that. As soon as the levees were breached, it became a national and security issue and the president should have issued an executive order immediately, sending in the military.
In time of life/death, Americans look for to the commander in chief to lead, not to some confused governor or mayor.
The question now becomes can Mr. Bush make a comeback? The relief efforts are building, but we're still dealing with a huge, confused bureaucracy here. I expect most hurricane victims will get a chance to start again, but it won't be easy.
That, however, will not be enough. President Bush needs a big win and soon. Katrina, Iraq, gas prices and the chaotic border have all descended upon the president. If something dramatically good doesn't happen soon, like the capture of bin Laden or Zarqawi, Mr. Bush could be staring at very, very tough times.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
As you may know, “The Factor” and indeed, the entire FOX News Channel does not really have a good relationship with the print press. Now part of it's a left-wing thing. The print press is overwhelmingly liberal, and even though they like diversity in other areas, they kind of frown on it in the press.
Obviously, FOX News does not march to anyone's drum beat, much less the secular one forth by many in print.
Now, over the weekend I was shocked, shocked, I tell you, to read in Newsday, of all places, an article by the dean of the Fordham University School of Communications that praised me and other FOX News people for our Katrina coverage.
Paul Levinson wrote, "Bill O'Reilly at FOX News, never better from his bully pulpit, arranging right on the air for rescues of elderly women trapped by the storm. It was Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera, also on FOX, refusing to allow the people bottled up in dangerous and squalid conditions in the New Orleans Convention Center to be forgotten."
The Dean went on to praise other broadcast journalists, and I appreciate his point-of-view because it is so rare, and that rarity might be ridiculous. Appreciate it, Dean.
And finally tonight, before we get to the mail, the results of our billoreilly.com poll which asks, do you believe U.S. oil companies are price gouging. About 75,000 of you voted. Eighty-nine percent say yes, the oil companies are gouging; 11 percent said they are not.
We'll leave the poll up for another few days.
By the way, we've experienced a surge in billoreilly.com premium memberships since Labor Day. That's great news. We hope you check it out. But voting on our poll is free, as is much of the web site.