Media figures have advanced a long line of inane historical analogies to attack the Obama administration, characterizing the Gulf oil spill -- and a wide range of other events -- as Obama's Katrina and searching for Obama's Watergate, Obama's 9-11, and Obama's Waterloo, among others.
Limbaugh: BP oil spill in Gulf is Obama's Katrina. During the April 30 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh referred to the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as “Obama's Katrina,” absurdly comparing the Obama administration's response to the spill to the Bush administration's botched response after Hurricane Katrina, a hurricane that left more than 1,500 dead. Limbaugh added, “That damn oil slick just got in the way. So he had to give some lip service to the oil slick. 'It's all British Petroleum's fault. They gotta clean it up. I'm sending some czars down there.' ”
Right-wing media enthusiastically adopted Obama's Katrina talking point. Among other media outlets that promoted the claim that the oil spill is “Obama's Katrina” were Fox Nation, Big Bureaucracy, The Washington Times, the Drudge Report, and the Boston Herald.
Hannity continued pushing discredited Obama's Katrina talking point. On the May 7 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity said the Gulf spill has “been called Obama's Katrina, and new evidence indicates that may be an understatement” and falsely claimed that the Obama administration “failed to act in the immediate aftermath of this crisis.”
H1N1 flu is Obama's Katrina. On his November 3, 2009, radio show, Limbaugh stated that the H1N1 vaccine shortage “ought to be Obama's Katrina,” but won't because “they have to protect the little man-child.” An August 25 op-ed by Martin Schram for the Scripps-Howard News Service was headlined “Schram: Swine flu could be Obama's Katrina.” Kansas City Star blogger Bill Dalton wrote an October 15, 2009, post under the headline “H1N1: Obama's Katrina?” On the May 3, 2009, edition of Washington, D.C., television station WJLA's Inside Washington, host Gordon Peterson and Newsweek's Evan Thomas discussed whether the H1N1 flu was “Obama's Katrina” (retrieved from the Nexis database).
Fort Hood shootings are Obama's Katrina. In a November 11, 2009, Human Events post titled “Fort Hood Could Be Obama's Katrina,” radio host Lynn Woolley wrote: “As Hurricane Katrina zeroed in on New Orleans in 2005, government at all levels was lethargic, seemed unprepared, and to some, even uncaring. In the wake of last week's massacre at Fort Hood, we are learning that the United States Army knew quite a bit about Major Nadal Malik Hasan -- but did not act on the information. Fort Hood could become Barack Obama's Katrina.” Woolley concluded: “The attitude of our Commander-in-Chief and others sworn to protect us is frighteningly reminiscent of what happened with Katrina. All we need from Obama is a hearty, 'Gen. Casey, you're doing a heck of a job.' ”
Kentucky ice storm is Obama's Katrina. A February 1, 2009, Confederate Yankee post titled “Obama's 'Katrina on Ice' ” asserted:
More than 700,000 homes are still without power in Kentucky due to a massive ice storm that struck the state six days ago, forcing Gov. Steve Beshear to mobilize his entire state's Army and Air National Guard, a total of 4,600 men and the largest call-out in Kentucky's history.
FEMA has apparently been a no-show.
Earthquake in Haiti is Obama's Katrina. In a January 25 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal titled “Haiti: Obama's Katrina,” Soumitra R. Eachempati, Dean Lorich, and David Helfet wrote: “Four years ago the initial medical response to Hurricane Katrina was ill equipped, understaffed, poorly coordinated and delayed. Criticism of the paltry federal efforts was immediate and fierce. Unfortunately, the response to the latest international disaster in Haiti has been no better, compounding the catastrophe.” Similarly, in a January 17 post titled “Obama's Katrina,” the blog Flopping Aces mentioned the criticisms of President Bush for his Katrina response and asked: “Does Obama Hate the People of Haiti?”
GM bankruptcy is Obama's Katrina. A June 8, 2009, Politico article was headlined: “Republicans hope General Motors is President Obama's Hurricane Katrina.”
Christmas Day underwear bomber is Obama's Katrina. In a December 29, 2009, Pajamas Media blog post titled “Is the Undiebomber Obama's Katrina?” Ed Driscoll asserted: “No doubt, Obama's poll numbers aren't going to be helped by this Jan-caused disaster. But I doubt if the fallout they'll face will be as severe as what the Bush administration went through due to Katrina, simply because the media will never gin up a news storm against the man they helped to elect that's anywhere near as powerful as the one they created to accompany Katrina.” Similarly, as Comedy Central's Jon Stewart noted, on the January 7 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Republican strategist Karen Hanretty referred to the attempted bombing as the Obama administration's " 'heck of a job, Brownie' moment."
Chicago housing policies are Obama's Katrina. In a June 30, 2008, post, Slate.com blogger Mickey Kaus linked to a Boston Globe article about Obama's Chicago housing policies as a state senator, headlining his post “Obama's Katrina.” Kaus later updated, concluding: “After all, Obama's career has been unusually limited for a presidential contender. Housing and 'community development' has been a big part of it. If the result has been a disaster in which Obama's friends made lots of money while his poor constituents lived in dangerous squalor, that seems like a big warning sign, no? At least an expectations-lowerer! George W. Bush, in contrast, hadn't dedicated a large chunk of his life to FEMA.”
The BP oil spill is Obama's Waterloo. In a June 2 article headlined “Forget Katrina: Is BP Obama's Waterloo?” Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz detailed criticism over Obama's response to the BP oil spill and his purportedly “flat and technocratic” press conference.
Limbaugh: Trials for terror suspects could be “Waterloo for Obama.” Discussing trials for terror suspects on November 16, 2009, Limbaugh stated that Obama's position on the issue was an “in-our-face weakening of our security” based on his supposed “contempt” for America. Limbaugh declared that this could amount to “Waterloo for Obama.”
Limbaugh: November 2009 election results “may well have been Obama's Waterloo.” On the November 4, 2009, edition of his radio show, Limbaugh discussed the previous night's election results and echoed Sen. Jim DeMint's language that health care reform could be “Obama's Waterloo.” Limbaugh declared that “last night may well have been Obama's Waterloo” and added: “I'm not kidding about that, ladies and -- that may have been Obama's Waterloo last night.”
White House outreach to Joe Sestak is Obama's Watergate. In recent weeks, conservative media figures have labeled the false allegation that Rep. Joe Sestak was “bribed” with a job offer as Obama's Watergate. Fox & Friends hosted Republican Rep. Darrell Issa to forward the allegation that the Sestak situation is similar to Watergate, a comparison subsequently highlighted on the Drudge Report. RedState.com featured a post headlined “Obama's Watergate?” that advanced the comparison. Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner speculated in a May 28 column headlined “Obama's Watergate” that the Sestak story “could be [Obama's] Watergate.”
BP oil spill is Obama's Watergate. During the May 27 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer asked whether the BP oil spill could be “Obama's Katrina.” Angela McGlowan, at the time a Republican candidate for Congress whom Hemmer introduced as “a Fox News contributor,” responded, “It's a fair comparison, but not only could this be Obama's Katrina -- and it's not Katrina yet -- but it could also be Obama's Watergate. Clearly, the role of the federal government is to protect the consumer and after this explosion, they should have called a state of emergency.”
Obama's Harriet Miers
Nomination of Elena Kagan for Supreme Court is Obama's Harriet Miers. Various media figures have likened Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan to Harriet Miers, Bush's failed nominee. A RedState blogger asked, “Will this be President Obama's Harriet Miers Moment?” The May 7 edition on Fox News' Special Report included a video clip of the Manhattan Institute's James Copland saying: “This is a potential nomination that's closer to Harriet Miers than it is to Sam Alito.” BigGovernment.com stated: “Today, President Obama is expected to announce the nomination of Harriet Miers Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court.” However, legal experts -- including conservatives -- have rejected the comparison.
Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination is Obama's Harriet Miers. Curt Levey, executive director of the right-wing Committee for Justice, and National Review Online's Ramesh Ponnuru both previously likened Sotomayor's nomination to -- in Ponnuru's words -- “Obama's Harriet Miers.”
Obama's 9-11, Iraq, Iranian hostage crisis, Enron, " 'My Pet Goat' moment"
Wash Times op-ed compares Obama's handling of BP oil spill to Carter's dealing with Iranian hostage crisis. In a June 2 op-ed for The Washington Times, Craig Shirley touched on conservatives' labeling of the BP oil spill as Obama's Katrina and wrote that the “more accurate historical analogy to Mr. Obama's fecklessness is Mr. Carter's in dealing with the 444-day hostage crisis.”
Time managing editor Stengel references Time article describing unemployment as Obama's 9-11. On the September 27, 2009, edition of The Chris Matthews Show, Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel said “our writer talked about the fact that 9/11, i.e. an unemployment rate from 9 to 11, could be 9/11, the fact that every lost job is like a rock thrown into a pond, it circulates all out and affects all kinds of other people” (transcript from Nexis). The article Stengel was presumably referencing is dated September 11, 2009. In it, Joshua Cooper Ramo wrote:
America now faces the direst employment landscape since the Depression. It's troubling not simply for its sheer scale but also because the labor market, shaped by globalization and technology and financial meltdown, may be fundamentally different from anything we've seen before. And if the result is that we're stuck with persistent 9%-to-11% unemployment for a while -- a range whose mathematical congruence with that other 9/11 is impossible to miss -- we may be looking at a problem that will define the first term of Barack Obama's presidency the way the original 9/11 defined George W. Bush's. Like that 9/11, this one demands a careful refiguring of some of the most basic tenets of national policy. And just as the shock of Sept. 11 prompted long-overdue (and still not cemented) reforms in intelligence and defense, the jobs crisis will force us to examine a climate that has been deteriorating for years. The total number of nonfarm jobs in the U.S. economy is about the same now -- roughly 131 million -- as it was in 1999. And the Federal Reserve is predicting moderate growth at best. That means more than a decade without real employment expansion.
O'Reilly asks, "[C]ould health care be Obama's Iraq?" As Stewart noted on The Daily Show, during an interview with Fox News contributor Karl Rove on The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly tried to draw a comparison between Obama's poll numbers during the debate on health care and the decline in Bush's poll numbers after he “won the initial Iraq invasion.” O'Reilly then asked Rove: “Could that be -- could health care be Obama's Iraq?” (transcript from Nexis).
Hannity speculates that Goldman Sachs is “Obama's Enron.” As Stewart noted, during an April 21 interview with Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin about Goldman Sachs fraud accusations, Hannity asked: “Is this as some are suggesting, Barack Obama's Enron or do they get away with it in the end? What do you think?”
Columnist Chapman labels reaction to Blagojevich scandal “Obama's 'My Pet Goat' Moment” In a Creators Syndicate column headlined “Obama's 'My Pet Goat' Moment,” Steve Chapman derided Obama's decision not to initially comment on former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich allegedly trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by Obama. Chapman wrote that Obama “had a 'My Pet Goat' moment, freezing up in the face of the shock.”