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August 31, 2008

McCain’s Disastrous Politics of Gustav
Posted by Moira Whelan

Today, Obama stated that he would stay out of the way as Hurricane Gustav once again threatens the Gulf Coast. Even Bush, who three years ago celebrated Katrina’s landfall at John McCain’s birthday party, is staying away.

What does McCain do? Just like he did when he traveled to a market place in Baghdad, he puts the lives of Americans in danger, and diverts the mission for his own personal political gain. He will travel to the Gulf Coast to give a speech while emergency professionals are urging people to leave.  Not only is it political grandstanding, it’s a disgusting display of the type of bad leadership we would see if John McCain became President.

Preparedness for hurricanes is serious business. When it’s done right, emergency managers control the airwaves, the message, and urge political leaders to stay out of the way so they can make sure people and property are safe. Senators and Congressmen are briefed, but told to stay out of the way and wait until they find out what resources are needed, and then make it happen. The governor takes cues from the Emergency Management director of the state: brief people to get out, show leadership, be honest, and make the calls for resources that need to be made. The President turns the keys to government over to the FEMA director to make sure resources flow properly and stands by to twist arms if needed. The business of disasters is left to disaster professionals with politicians playing a supporting role.

Now admittedly, we haven’t seen that in recent years, but when government works for people, this is how it happens.

But not in 2008, and not when John McCain is sucking wind on a political campaign.

Now, some Americans will see McCain’s trip as “leadership” but just as John McCain’s visit to a marketplace in Baghdad resulted in three Blackhawk helicopters and hundreds of soldiers being ordered to protect his photo op stroll through the market, this could be deadly.

It’s a complete disregard for the mission and the government professionals at all levels attempting to keep people safe.

John McCain’s mere suggestion that he should go there shows his horrific and dangerous judgment. If it actually happens, which hopefully it does not, then he will actually be doing harm. Because he is a presidential candidate, air traffic stops when he lands, roads are closed, and press follow him. Secret service and law enforcement personnel have to make sure everything is secure. That means all of these things STOP WORKING to make the area safer for the people getting out and protecting their homes. The only thing working in the favor of emergency management professionals are the noticeably small crowds at McCain events…so perhaps people will not be motivated to stay around.

These are the very reasons Obama and Biden dismissed the suggestion of travel immediately when asked. He’s talked to Jindal—a man on McCain’s short list for veep—and has expressed help. Trips of politicians often happen after major storms, but when doing these, the main goal is to highlight the devastation in order to secure the resources needed to fix it. It appears these gentlemen get it, and McCain is out of touch in a truly dangerous way.

McCain’s suggestion of a visit will waste precious hours in getting resources in at a time when hours and minutes make all the difference. It will impact news coverage which should otherwise be used to urge people to get out through the proper channels, not political parties.

The Republican suggestion that they may postpone their convention is understandable in some ways. This is, after all, a major emergency. I do think there are many who see this as a political opportunity to not have an embarrassing show that follows one that was amazing the Democrats had this week. They’ve floated the idea of a telethon to raise money. Political grandstanding? Sure, but at least it could do some good and you’re not in the way.

But a visit? Senator McCain, that would be a disaster for the country. Your truly reckless act would show once and for all that you actually would be worse than President Bush.

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Comments

As a Louisiana native and proud Democrat, I'll give credit where it's due and thank Governor Jindal for the great job in marshalling and deploying Louisiana state resources early (the first briefings began Wednesday) to have what appears to be a very successful and orderly evacuation and preparation for Gustav.

For those who were still on the fence about this issue, McCain's willingness to fly down for what will surpass his Baghdad market stroll as the greatest dog-and-pony show ever should demonstrate once and for all that McCain will do anything -- ANYTHING -- to get elected. Being a leader and effective president . . . that’s not really his thing. For him it’s about owning the news cycle.

Moira's right: the number one complaint about the failed response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was the lack of resources allocated at the state and federal level. How dare John McCain -- neither he nor his wife have any political or family connection to the Gulf Coast -- divert those scare resources, even for a few hours, so that he can travel to the region in the middle of a crisis in an attempt to capitalize on another potential tragedy!

McCain again strikes me as someone who is only able to think and act tactically, and cannot fathom the strategic implications of his short-term decisions to make today's headlines. As Obama has said, after eight years of foreign and domestic policy disasters under Bush/Cheney (including the screwed up Katrina response, which is second only to the decision to invade Iraq and do it on the cheap), JUDGMENT will be the key attribute Americans will be looking for in their next president. In terms of critical decisions made in the past 48 hours, McCain is 0-2.

Dude, He's a POW!

Let's just hope that the people do not get hurt. Forget the politicians and let people help each other as much as possible.

McCain seems to always put on a show while not giving any real solutions. Instead of trying to counter Obama's speech in Denver he tries to shock the media by picking Palin. Now he is doing it again by going to the Gulf States but not announcing any new policies on how to improve FEMA or the levies in New Orleans. I just hope that the MSM does not take the bait.

I pray for the people of LA..They will be protected.

Please don't let McCain put the wool over your eyes...He is playing politics with people's lives...People will die if McCain/Palin becomes President/VP. Someone prayed for "RAIN" on the Democratic convention..Look at what's happening to the Republican convention...Becareful what you ask for.

"enough" we cannot put another BUSH/McPalin in the whitehouse..People our kids must not suffer anymore...

You know the people that live in New Orleans know the risks of living there. Why does the whole country need to have a pity party for this city every time a hurricane threatens.

Now I'm sure that the democrats will find a way to blame George Bush for this. He does after all have control of the weather.

The state where I reside had extensive flooding this summer. I don't recall anybody here blaming George Bush or John McCain for it.

Hey Sharon can you give me your ridiculous explanation of how people will die if McCain/Palin get elected? So if Obama gets elected no one will die?

It is ironic that this is playing out this way. I remember the righties were wishing a huge rainstorm on Obama's speech in Denver and it turned out to be a magnificent evening in every way. Well, be careful for what you wish for, I guess you reap what you sew... The good omens are with the democrats....

Hey Mike, it's obvious you're a Mccain/Palin supporter...I'm sorry for you....I understand your comment about Sharon regarding people "dying' if Mccain/Palin are elected but I feel where she's coming from. This is NOTHING BUT grandstanding on Mccain's part to put a potentially disasterous storm at the forefront of his campaign at the moment. He is absolutely ridiculous in thinking that this is going to score him points. Let's face it, those staunch republicans are going to vote for Mccain regardless....nothing can stop that but come on...I'm definitely not a Republican but if I were and on the fence, I personally would stop and seriously consider the damage he could be doing by going down to the hard hit areas for press coverage just to show Americans "he cares"....heck, we all care but I think most of us would have the COMMON SENSE to not put more people in danger. This is just absolutely ridiculous on his part. It just shows his wanting to put on a face for Americans. Give me a break!!! Republicans wake up!!!! This is a new time and people are sick and tired of the same ole', same ole'. I shake my head in pity for those who truly think Mccain/Palin is the way to go.....this new news of his wanting to go to the gulf coast or whereever the storm hits shows his willingness to do whatever it takes to get elected.....HOW SAD FOR ALL OF US.

"You know the people that live in New Orleans know the risks of living there. Why does the whole country need to have a pity party for this city every time a hurricane threatens."

What a shallow, simplistic, and frankly silly statement. I know that this is the oft-repeated mantra of conservatives when trying to spin their utter incompetence in the wake of Katrina, but let's be serious. Blaming the victims of a natural disaster because they live there? Most of the victims in Katrina were living in abject poverty; they couldn't leave if they wanted to.

Besides, many of my fellow New Orleanians saw with a certain degree of irony most if not all of Iowa's 99 counties innundated with flood waters this summer. Should we just write off the heartland because it can be risky there sometimes? Or how about the California wildfires, which only seem to grow in intensity every year. By Republican logic, it's their own fault they decided to live in the woods and be surrounded by miles-long firelines. And don't get me started about Florida--with a Bush who was governor no less--which attacts hurricanes like a lightbuld attracts bugs.

Maybe all 300 million Americans can cram into South Dakota, where it's nice and quite and safe. Wait a minute, there are those brutal winters . . .

For those of us in the real world and not Bushworld, it's the responsibility of citizens to mitigate risks wherever they can based on the unique geographic conditions they live in. California does it with earthqakes. The Midwest does it for periodic floods and draughts. The Gulf Coast, including New Orleans does it for hurricanes with levees, drain and pump systems, and effective evacuation plans. It's the federal government's role to fill in the gaps: those interstate issues that cannot be resolved by one mayor or governor or are too onerous for one state to manage.

That appears to be what DHS and FEMA are doing in preparation for Gustav. And that is what McCain is mucking up by demanding that all eyes be on him in the middle of this crisis.

What people don't understand is that we can't just abandon NO...it is a major shipping center and a huge support center for the offshore oil business (and don't all reich wingers want to drill every inch of the Gulf?). So unless you can tell me how robots will do all the work people will have to live in and around NO. Maybe we should abandon Calif where the almost annual wild fires occur.

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