David Crabtree on Assignment

By The Numbers

Posted September 12, 2005 1:30 p.m. EDT

As Ophelia churns off the coasts of North and South Carolina, stomachs seem to be churning in Washington. Monday morning all the major news programs found time to focus on the job approval rating of President Bush. Two new polls had his approval rating at 38% another at 41%. These are the lowest of his first or second term.

I watched as anchor after anchor posed questions, "Is the White House panicking?" or "What are they doing to stop the slide?" Tim Russert, for whom I have great admiration, called the situation "grave." It seemed as if the theme of the morning was President Bush is in New Orleans again, and is sending as much money as possible ONLY because of the low poll numbers.

I just don't believe that.

Let me be clear. There are several policy areas where I question the action and the motivation of this current administration. I was particularly troubled by the early "zero tolerance" response from the president regarding looting, in the stages where people were primarily seeking food and medicine.

George W. Bush may have expended much of his political capital, especially that gained after his leadership in the early post 9/11 months. But to think that his actions are solely motivated on polling is harder to swallow.

Recovering from the natural disaster complicated by man-made responses will take years. During that time, other disasters will happen, some the government will respond to more effectively. Others... we'll simply have to wait and see.

All of us can do a better job. All of us. But to think that as a society we're motivated to help humankind because of public opinion is not an option.

About this Blog:

WRAL anchor David Crabtree reports from around the world.