Hurricane Katrina has diverted our attention from Iraq, and now the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist and the Roberts confirmation hearings will further absorb us. If neither of these things were occupying the stage, we would be scrutinizing the constitutional process in Iraq and following the Cindy Sheehan bus caravan. What effect do you think it will have for Americans to pay so much less attention to Iraq? Certainly, those who are committed to the anti-war movement are frustrated to have built up attention to their cause only to see it torn away. Some of them have tried very hard to link Katrina to the Iraq war.
I'm sure such efforts appeal to those who are already against the war, but I tend to think most Americans would find them obtuse or offensive. The theme has been the woeful, overarching incompetence of the Bush administration. If the administration proceeds to do well with the hurricane disaster, it might make people more likely to assume it must be doing well enough in Iraq too. The anti-war activists will feel tempted to point to all the failings of the hurricane effort to keep the general incompetence theme alive. But I think ordinary people feel very bad about the things that went wrong in the Katrina aftermath and will eagerly consume any new flow of good news. They will get tired of those who harp on the bad, especially when it is conspicuously part of a larger political agenda.
UPDATE: I think this new poll reinforces my beliefs about how ordinary people will feel about things.