CNN’s Bill Schneider sounded more like a spokesman for the Democratic Party than a seasoned political analyst during the 4pm EDT hour of today’s The Situation Room. In his report on the Bush administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina and the impact it will have on the 2006 mid-term elections, Schneider opined over a picture of Bush looking out the window of Air Force One:
"The President’s image of compassion was shaky to begin with, even though he calls himself a compassionate conservative. Bill Clinton felt your pain. George Bush flew over it."
That zinger met with strong approval, not surprisingly, from Schneider’s colleague, Jack Cafferty during his Cafferty File segment minutes after Schneider’s report: "Great line from Bill Schneider. ‘Bill Clinton felt your pain. George Bush flew over it.’"
According to Schneider, Katrina cost the apparently "clueless" Bush administration its image of compassion and competence:
Schneider: "..The Bush administration seemed clueless about the magnitude of the disaster."
Soledad O’Brien, CNN’s American Morning host, September 2, 2005: "When yesterday did you become aware?"
Michael Brown, former FEMA director on the CNN show: "I think it was yesterday morning when we first found out about it. We were just as surprised as everybody else."
Schneider, over CNN poll numbers showing the percent who said "President Bush can manage government effectively," fell from 53 to 43 percent between July and October, 2005: "Result? President Bush lost his carefully cultivated image of competence. The President’s image of compassion was shaky to begin with, even though he calls himself a compassionate conservative. Bill Clinton felt your pain. George Bush flew over it. Historically, in midterm elections, the president’s party pays for the president’s sins. A lot of voters see last year’s hurricanes as one of a growing list of problems that government has failed to solve. The result is mounting anti-incumbent sentiment. Only a third of Americans say they would like to see most members of Congress re-elected. Issues like Iraq and immigration are likely to bring out protest votes on the left and on the right. Anti-war. Anti-amnesty. Could there be a protest vote over the handling of hurricane damage? Possibly."
To bolster this last statement, Schneider featured a sound bite from an unidentified protester at an anti-Bush demonstration: "The result of the negligence of this administration, of it’s non-concern for people who are poor, for people who are black, for people who are brown, for people of color."