August 15, 2004

Politicizing A Disaster 

posted by Paul Smith @ 11:07 PM
The devastation caused by Hurricane Charley on Florida comes at a opportune time for the President: he can bestow a large amount of relief funds to the swing state that's sure to boost his favorables, tour around consoling with families while getting ample press coverage on the tax payer's dollar -- a freebee campaign stop -- and contrast himself yet again against his father's one-term presidency, who was famously slow to respond to Hurricane Andrew. With recent polls showing a consistent lead by his opponent in this state, the President can hope to pull a few percentage points back into his column by showing leadership.

What a cynical, bitter analysis, right?

If John Kerry, or anyone else, were president right now, I'd expect him to be doing more or less the same things. Disperse the resources of the federal government to help rebuild: this is exactly the sort of thing our government should do and does best, that is, buffer people from catastrophe, be it natural disaster or health emergency or sudden unemployment. And he should generally provide comfort to the grief-stricken, which is one of the roles we call on our president to perform.

But of course we have this president, and this president would never try to exploit a tragedy for political gain, right?
The president promised rapid assistance for Florida, where officials estimated damages of up to $11 billion to insured homes alone.

When asked about why he made such a quick trip to Florida in this election year, Bush said: "If I didn't come, they would've said we should have been here more rapidly."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency was sending teams of medical, urban rescue and communication workers; at least 60 semitrailers containing cots, blankets, meals, portable toilets, wash kits and other necessities; and truckloads of water and ice.

FEMA said the state has requested catastrophic housing for 10,000 people, and more than 4,000 National Guard troops have been activated.

"It's going to be awesome -shock and awe -that's our goal," said Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's younger brother.[Emphasis mine.]

In other news, the word "chutzpah" exploded today, wounding us all deeply.

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