As I sit here in my Manhattan stronghold, with batteries, candles, water, food, and supplies socked in, I’m thinking about the effect this storm may have on the presidential campaign. Like when the Olympics were held last summer, and the competition had the collateral effect of diverting the attention of the media and millions away from the campaign, I’m thinking there will be a smilar effect this week, with the likely effect of freezing the campaign in place.
Though surrogates will probably continue to be heard in the media, their efforts will be dampened, while campaigning by the two candidates and their running mates is coming to a near-standstill for at least 2-3 days. In the meantime, President Obama visited FEMA HQs for a briefing this afternoon. CNN reported on his FEMA visit:
“You need to take this seriously and take guidance from state and local officials,” Obama said at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington. ”This hasn’t hit landfall yet,” he said. “So we don’t yet know where it’s going to hit, where we’re going to see the biggest impacts and that’s exactly why it’s so important for us to respond big and respond fast as local information starts coming in.” Before speaking to reporters, Obama said he met with officials from FEMA and other agencies, as well as spoke by phone with governors and mayors whose states and cities may be impacted by the storm. Obama said he is “confident that the resources are in place.”
Barack can do presidential things like that, but since Mitt has no job, apart from running for office, he can’t do anything constructive. He may be tempted to to do something photo-op-ish like visit a shelter or an evacuation center, but it would look excessively opportunistic, especially after Paul Ryan was recently caught trying to wash a food pantry’s pots and pans when they weren’t even dirty.
Do you remember how well FEMA operated during the Clinton administration, with James Lee Witt at the helm of the agency? Then, under Geore W. Bush, with hacks Joe Allbaugh and Mike Brown in charge, FEMA was a basket case. Katrina happened after the Bushies had let the agency go to pot. It’s so clear that government agencies like FEMA run better under DEMs, than under Repubs. Maybe this storm will have the effect of reminding the country of that, and which party they want in charge of the White House, under circumstances like these.
Since I believe that the president is ahead in Ohio and key swing states, I’m okay with an event like this that freezes the campaign in place, though I’m disappointed with the disruption of early voting and the possible muting of the president’s case for re-election. There is no precedent for a storm like this, landing just a few days before a presidential election. It’s terra incognita in historical terms, so we really don’t know what effect this may have. Still, I’m hoping the millions of people in the storm’s path will be safe, and the country will be reminded of why we need to have an adequately funded government, with agile and responsive agencies like FEMA.