Not being a Bush fan, what I'm about to write is going to be very hard.
Four years ago today, in the wake of September 11th, Bush's approval rating was well over 80%. The United States rallied around its leader to form a united front against terrorism. At the time I thought Americans were a bunch of idiots, giving a president, who did little to stop the terrorism in the first place and even less to stop it after the fact, their overwhelming approval.
Now, in the aftermath of Katrina and the anger over soaring gas prices, America has turned the other way, Bush's approval rating has dipped to a low of 39%. And yet I still feel like Americans are a bunch of idiots, or at the very least a bunch of sheep, following whatever the latest trend may be. The latest trend is blaming Bush for every bad thing that happens.
Americans greatly overestimate the influence the President has on their lives. When things are going good, all the praise goes to the President. When things are bad, they all blame him too. The fact is, the President has very little influence on the day to day lives of most Americans. The President has very little influence on the overall direction of the economy. Certainly he sets policy, but he is just one voice, albeit a very loud one, in the very complex machinery that is the United States.
While the federal government has certainly made mistakes over the last few weeks, they can hardly be completely blamed for the devastation that has hit the South. They certainly can't be blamed for the spike in gasoline prices that followed. Yet Americans seem to look to their neighbors to figure out how they should feel. Post 9-11, America was great so Bush was great. Post Katrina, America not so great so Bush is the devil. Believe me, Bush did nothing fantastic that anyone else couldn't have done post 9-11 and he hasn't done anything so heinous recently to suggest the precipitous fall of his approval rating (other than be who he has always been).
Bush is Bush. I feel his policies and politics have remained fairly constant over the course of his Presidency. If you hated him before, you should probably hate him now. If you liked him before, you should probably still like him (but you may want to get your head checked).