Katie Couric brought on presidential historian Michael Beschloss to ask if Katrina will damage Bush's legacy. At the top of the show at 7:00 am Couric teased the upcoming segment: "Will this storm hurt President Bush's ability to accomplish his second term agenda and what impact will it have on his legacy? We'll talk with a top historian about that."
At 7:12 am Couric sat down with Beschloss in studio and opened with the following questions:
Couric: "On Close Up this morning how much damage has hurricane Katrina done to the Bush presidency? Michael Beschloss is NBC's presidential historian. Michael, good morning...So President Bush went to New Orleans to, to view the devastation for the third time. It's the first time he saw it, actually from the ground. Will the damage done, in terms of the slow response by the federal government, continue to haunt this President?"
After Beschloss compared Katrina to the political damage done to Dwight Eisenhower when Sputnik was launched by the Soviets Couric eagerly asked if this would hamper Bush's agenda:
Couric: "How hamstrung might this President be when it comes to accomplishing things on his legislative agenda, for example, social security reform and other measures that he wants to complete as part of a second term?"
[Beschloss: "Well you know the last couple of days Katie there were some polls that have George Bush in the high thirties, that's a danger zone. Lyndon Johnson during Vietnam, George H. W. Bush when he was about to be defeated for re-election. If Bush doesn't turn these things around the Republicans will have a hard time in the elections next year and if that happens, you know, members of Congress and everyone else read the polls he's gonna have a much harder time influencing both Americans and senators and members of Congress on things like social security."]
Couric: "So you think it will hurt the Republican Party in general or do you think they can bounce back from this?"
After Beschloss gave a non-committal response Couric returned to a theme from yesterday's Today show about whether Iraq is hobbling this adminstration: Couric: "As we heard from Kelly O'Donnell President Bush is meeting with the Iraqi president at the White House today. He said that he can do more than one thing at, or can do two things at the same time."
And then a little later in the interview:
Couric: "How difficult will it be for him to continue to or to rebuild support for the war in Iraq given what he's dealing with in, in, on the Gulf Coast?"