Bush's Katrina vs. Obama's BP Oil Spill Crisis

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Difference between Bush's Katrina Crisis and Obama's BP Oil Spill Crisis

With the recent high profile media coverage of the BP oil spill, much attention has been focused on President Barack Obama and his handling of the crisis. In addition, it is only natural that comparisons would be made between Obama’s actions and those of his predecessor, George W. Bush. Can a legitimate comparison actually be made, and if so, how do the two compare? This comparison article seeks to answer that question.


Public Perception

Most people seem to be disappointed with President Obama’s performance after the BP oil spill, although not to the degree that Bush experienced after Hurricane Katrina. While Bush’s popularity took a severe nosedive by more than 10 points after that disaster, President Obama’s rating slipped by a lower margin of 7 points.

How The Media Saw It

The reaction of the media also differed considerably in both instances, with Bush being more widely criticized for his action–or some would say, inaction–after the Katrina disaster than Obama was in the aftermath of the BP oil spill. In addition, observers were also a lot more supportive of the widespread criticism of Bush by the media. This stands in marked contrast to the media reaction to Obama after the BP oil spill, which cold best be described as cautiously critical. While Obama did receive some scathing remarks in the press for having played golf for a few days after the crisis, this hardly compared to the criticism that Bush received for going on vacation while Katrina unleashed its fury on New Orleans.


Some of the harshest critics of Bush emphasized his apparent poor crisis management skills during the disaster, as well as his decision to not set foot in New Orleans until a few days after the rubble cleared. To his credit, Bush rightfully stated that he merely wanted to avoid getting in the way of the relief effort, which was a weak reason and certainly didn't win him points with the public. Obama also received his fair share of criticism for the apparent lack of quick and decisive action after the BP oil spill, although measures such as the meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron and the suggested penalties against British Petroleum did bolster his reputation somewhat.


Bush During Katrina Crisis

  • Was the subject of widespread criticism for his perceived inaction and indifference
  • Perception as a strong and decisive leader dropped significantly after the disaster
  • Was openly scorned and criticized by the media
  • Was blamed for insufficient crisis management action and slow response of federal agencies
  • Received unfavorable press for not visiting New Orleans unit several days after the event

Obama During BP Oil Spill Crisis

  • Public perception as a strong and decisive leader dropped as well, although not the degree that Bush's reputation did
  • Was criticized far more gently by the press
  • Initiated talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron
  • Has threatened to increase BP's liabilities as a consequence of the spill

Which is worse?
  • Bush's Katrina Crisis
  • Obama's BP Oil Spill Crisis

Discuss It: comments 1

bush is the worst pres in history. obama is good but his disaster is worse. the people of new orleans need to be ready for hurricane season...

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