Posts Tagged ‘convention’

Hurricane Gustav – The Political Storm Surge

September 2, 2008

Politics is not something I normally post about, despite an active interest in it. In general I don’t think my opinions offer more to the discourse than is already available, so I choose not to offer them in a public forum.

That said, I wanted to comment on something that has been bothering me; the politicization of hurricane Gustav.

I’m glad to hear that New Orleans seems to have been spared by Gustav, but am disappointed to see the plight of people living on the Gulf coast yet again becoming fodder for political cannons.

In marked contrast to the devastation hurricane Katrina reaped in 2005, and the epic failings of government and infrastructure it highlighted; it seems for Gustav that important emergency preparedness lessons have been learned. The evacuation was handled efficiently, and communication at all levels appears to have been greatly improved.

The pitiful reaction to Katrina by the Federal government was a political nightmare for the Bush administration, and the republican party. Over the holiday, with Gustav and the RNC looming, it appears they were determined to prove that political lessons had been learned as well.

By restructuring the schedule for their national convention, the republicans have positioned themselves well as a party sensitive to, and capable of handling a national crisis. Had it been left at that, a moderate political victory could have been reaped. But in an example of the lack of sensitivity, and greed that has become a hallmark of the current administration Bush spoke moments ago under the guise of an update on Gustav.

He began with a disjointed and awkward assessment of Gustav’s impact on the oil industry versus Katrina’s, and then quickly turned his comments not to the ongoing serious challenges, and threats to infrastructure that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal would point out only a few minutes later; but into a political pitch for congress to support more offshore drilling.

Bush was essentially saying, With Katrina, our offshore oil rigs came loose, destroyed underwater pipelines, and may have produced the worst oil spills on record, but luckily Gustav wasn’t as strong, so lets build more offshore oil rigs.”

It strikes me as arrogant and insensitive that Bush assumes the successful handling of a storm (aka doing his job) translates to a big political win in the same way a disastrous response translates to a big political loss.

This is a further example of the lack of coordination between the White House and the McCain campaign, whom I’m sure were as disappointed to hear Bush’s remarks as I was. Peter Baker of The New York Times wrote about a long history of gaffes and miss communications between the White House and the McCain campaign this weekend in an excellent article about Bush’s legacy (beginning on pg. 5).

I doubt this issue will get much play in the mainstream media, as it appears both candidates are treating it as it should be treated, and this could easily just be cited as the last throes of a lame duck.

Edit: Video Added