On the September 4 broadcast of NBC's syndicated The Chris Matthews Show, MSNBC chief White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell touted President Bush's skills as a "crisis manager" in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Responding to a question from host Chris Matthews, on whether the president's slow response to the hurricane could become "a long-term [political] problem for this president," O'Donnell answered, "I think the president thrives on being a crisis manager. I think that's what he's good at. I think that's what we saw after 9-11."
When Matthews challenged her, asking, "But what happened [with the president's response to the hurricane] this week?" O'Donnell acknowledged, "He was slow to it, and sometimes he is slow -- getting to it. But I think that he'll recover from it."
From the September 4 broadcast of NBC's The Chris Matthews Show:
MATTHEWS: Welcome back. Let's get a political damage report on the president. Is this behavior or lack of it the last week a long-term problem for this president?
TERRY NEAL (Washington Post staff writer): I think that it is. And I think that it doesn't really matter whether it's a problem for him, it's going to be a problem for his party, because we're going into midterm elections next year, and a president who has between a 40 and 45 percent approval rating is not going to be helpful. I mean, people have to remember that Bill Clinton, in the midterm year, in the year in which he was impeached, his poll numbers were 10 points or so higher than George W. Bush's are now. So I think it's a problem for his party. I don't think it's one - a year from now is still a long time away, and he could recover, but I have a sense that it is going to be a long-term problem.
O'DONNELL: I think the president thrives on being a crisis manager. I think that's what he's good at. I think that's what we saw after 9-11 --
MATTHEWS: But what happened this week?
O'DONNELL: Well, he was slow to it, and sometimes he is slow -- getting to it. But I think that he'll recover from it. He could bounce back if he does a good job. I just don't think it's a total loss for him.