On Thursday President Bush will return to Louisiana to deliver a prime-time address about Hurricane Katrina and the relief effort. Given the careful attention this White House pays to staging events, and given the ongoing political cleanup from the FEMA fiasco, the president will undoubtedly try to pick a venue that is loaded with meaning, signifying competence, compassion, and hope all at once.
The president could speak in front of an audience of hurricane survivors. That would go a small way toward replacing that aloof image of Bush flying over the flooded landscape on Air Force One. But introducing real people into a set piece would be a huge gamble for a Bush team terrified of serendipity. Speaking in a church shelter would be too overtly religious, the Superdome too much a symbol of government screw-ups. The deck of the relief ship Iwo Jima would signal competence and action but would also remind people of the president's cocksure "Mission Accomplished" speech on the carrier Abraham Lincoln after the Iraq invasion.
So, what is the right spot?
In the short period before the White House announces the venue, please write in with two suggestions:
- Where the president should give his address, and
- Where you think he actually will give it.
We'll post the best answers tomorrow.
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