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Pointless polls: BP vs. Katrina

Bo-oil I'm just as disgusted as anyone at the photos of oil-soaked bird carcasses washing up on Gulf Coast shores. But the results of a recent poll on Americans' attitudes toward the Obama administration's response to the oil spill, when compared with a similar 2005 poll on President Bush's post-Katrina ball-dropping, are curious:

A month and a half after the spill began, 69% in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll rate the federal response negatively. That compares with a 62% negative rating for the response to Katrina two weeks after the August 2005 hurricane.

The 7-point spread doesn't represent much of a statistical bombshell. But the Katrina versus BP comparison -- as if both can be held up as indicative of the same kind of government incompetence -- is puzzling. As The Times' editorial board wrote last week, the Bush administration's Federal Emergency Management Agency was too slow to perform tasks it was explicitly set up to fulfill. Thousands of evacuees were stranded for days in a flooded New Orleans while FEMA Director Michael D. Brown displayed little interest in doing his job.

President Obama, by contrast, has drawn criticism mainly for his supposedly insufficient outrage. Though The Times' editorial board faulted the president for maintaining too much of a hands-off approach for too long, it did point out that unlike FEMA's more clearly defined role in hurricane relief, "There are no proven protocols in place for responding to an oil well blowout at a depth of 5,000 feet; the country is only now learning this humbling lesson."

Or if you insist on identifying a villain, you're free to join Sarah Palin in left field and blame  -- no kidding -- "radical environmentalists."

-- Paul Thornton

Photo credit: Reuters


Comments () | Archives (8)

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I suspect that Obama's marks are more a reflection of a President who didn't pull the resources together early to protect the wetlands and beaches. The videos on CNN that showed vast expanses of beach and wetlands saturated with oil and not a sole trying to control it spoke volumes. The President focused on controlling the "leak" when he really offered little in terms of practical technical expertise while virtually no effort seemed to be directed to the part he could help with; the cleanup and control of the floating oil. He really didn't seem interested at all. Day after day, there were storys of lack of action on the berms, lack of booms, no-one cleaning beaches, and on and on. Every dead pelican reminds us that no-one was there to control the oil that did spill, until it was too late. How the White House could not see the result coming is beyond me. Then again, maybe he knew exactly what he was doing for other motives?


lol. The editorial staff of the LA Times is puzzled about the poll? You guys have been consistently 'puzzled' when it comes to the public, the issues, and your falling readership.

Might I point out your last 'editorial agreement' poll? It would not be an exaggeration to say that you guys are definitely out of the mainstream, and quite definitely not leading anyone to any water in a stream.

Used to be something about leading with the best ideas. Now you guys are writing to please an out of touch owner.

Louis Loverne'

As someone from the effected area,I have seen the response from both POTUS's.These two events are very different in that one was a natural disaster and one was a man made disaster.From what I remember,Bush called the soon to be hit areas a disaster area in need of relief monies as soon as possible.I was there,so no one can tell me I don't know what I'm talking about.The problem was we did not know where the storm would hit so it was a wait and see attitude.And again everyone knew it was going to be big and was told to leave days in advance.So those whom chose to stay can't blame anyone but themselves.
With this disaster with the oil rig,from day one there should have been a response from the POTUS upon learning of the spill.Not days,weeks!This affects everyone in the U.S. not just a corner of the country that no one cares about.Seafood prices will triple,fuel prices will go up,hotels etc.Why must the POTUS wait until he sees the polls to do what should have been done the first day?Why must he sue BP before the spill is contained and cleaned up?We down here see this as politics as usual.It's as if he is still campaigning!You won,now do your job!Stop going on vacation,no more concerts at the White house!DO YOUR DAMN JOB!

Jeff {SkAtEbOaRd}

LOL @ LA TIMES! I canceled this loser of journalism some years ago but at least once a week I get a link from a friend or two pointing out how their writers are still standing up for the same old same old. Is it any wonder why nobody takes this rag seriously anymore. It's been decades really.

Obama has done little if anything to show the American people he is beyond his show boating ways. The guy has little desire to get his hands dirty outside of his crooked in house ways. WE THE PEOPLE have been dissed on this selection and we are seeing Carter-esque moments daily by this administration.

The media was in on a frenzy over Bush and Katrina yet gave this guy a pass week after week until the reality became known and no thanks to papers like the LA TIMES for gong and getting the real story. Why? Because it would hurt their chosen one. Instead another injustice for the American people.

Katrina was a National disaster on STATE soil. This spill is a disaster on FEDERAL WATERS! More so the PRESIDENTS responsibility. And if Obama was not failing on every other front this poll in question may not e as bad either. Folks this will be a NOVEMBER to REMEMBER! 2010


Here's is the take away from these events in my opinion. All branches of the government are broke the local, state and federal government. All broke all useless. Let's take Katrina for instance, Mayor Nagen had plenty of warning and yet did not do enough to get more people out of harms way, neither he nor his emergency management team had a plan for disaster of this nature. Once the hurricane hit the governor lacked the smarts to even fill out the appropriate paper work. The federal response was ridiculous given the amount of tax payer money we pump into them. Now look at the oil spill, the first thing BP wanted to do was cut the oil line and Cap which after federal government intervention turned out to be the last thing they did because our federal government told them no initially, so we had 40+ days of massive oil leaks. The governor asked to build 20+ berms to protect the wet land, the fed authorized 6 and began studying the environmental impact of the others as if there would actually be great impact from the berms than there was form the actual spill. The point is the Federal government got in the way of BP and caused the problem to be much much worse than it would have been.

Now do you really want the government managing you health care?

e pearse

BP is now having relative important success in capping the oil flow. But the administration has come out with claims to this success.
These claims, together with the best live imagery of how the cap works and how it was implemented I found at http://www.robbingamerica.com
The technology shown here is fascinating and in spite of what everybody thinks of BP right now, it is very good work by BP, but now in doubt by the story here of the action from Washington.


Palin is right. The crazy tree huggers forced oil companies to drill far from shore where no man can dive to the bottom at 5000ft. If rigs are allowed to drill in more shallow waters this spill would not even be an issue. It would hsve been fixed. Its just another setup by the commie left to screw their oppositon and forward their Hitler like ideas.

Larry Pinci

I was pondering the insidiousness and devastation of this BP disaster and wrote this poem

Black Rage by Larry Pinci

Spewing Black Rage
Not from the innocence of nature
Nor from it’s wild embrace
But from greedy reckless hands
Spawned by the human race

Incessant Black Rage
Spewing on natures spawn
Lining life with death
Transforming sea to sludge
Nothing left to give only pain to get

Oil Black Rage
The bellowing cry of nature’s reeling
And scathing assault of rage on land
This symbiont sadness of sea and earth’s feeling
From where doth come the healing hand

Strangle Black Rage
When can this invasion end
When will this insanity cease
And nature calls man back as friend
And beckons for a symbiont peace



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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