A poll has been making the rounds indicating that a substantial number of Louisiana Republicans view Obama as primarily responsible for the Hurricane Katrina response:
According to a Public Policy Polling survey, 29 percent of Louisiana Republicans say President Obama is more to blame for the botched executive branch response to Hurricane Katrina while just 28 percent blamed George W. Bush. A plurality of 44 percent said they were unsure who was more responsible, even though Hurricane Katrina occurred over three years before Obama entered the presidency when he was still a freshman Senator.
One’s first thought is of course to marvel at the stupidity of these people who somehow managed to forget, “Heckuva job, Brownie!” But then another question presents itself: why the hell would you even ask this question? It’s essentially an empirical fact that George W. Bush, as head of the Executive Branch during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, was ultimately responsible for how it was carried out — definitely not a matter of opinion.
The only reason to do these obnoxious “pop quiz” questions is precisely to be able to portray the general public as ignorant and in need of guidance by their wise rulers. “Sure, the American people broadly prefer a single-payer health care plan, but these are the same people 20% of whom think Jesus was Canadian!” “Yeah, yeah, the American people don’t think we should be involved in Syria, but a full 30% of them think it’s a province in China!” I suspect that these questions actually directly produce some of the ignorance they supposedly diagnose — some percentage of people are bound to give insincere answers to such a stupid question, and others who really did know the “right answer” may become unsure of themselves simply because the issue is being portrayed as somehow under debate. I can see it: “I know Bush was president, but maybe Obama was involved behind the scenes in a way that wasn’t noted at the time? Oh, I don’t know!”
It’s too bad there’s not more of a “culture of assessment” in news organizations, because the only conclusion I can draw from such widespread ignorance is that journalists are doing an incredibly shitty job at their ostensible function. In terms of their real function of reinforcing the hegemony of existing elites, though, I can only say: “Heckuva job!”