Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Politics of Tragedy

One of the most respected political columnists of our time, Charles Krauthammer offers his opinion about the politics of President Obama’s attention to ‘Storm’ Sandy versus the amount of attention he paid to the terrorist attack that took place on September 11 in Benghazi, Libya.

“He says he’s not concerned about the impact on the elections,” Krauthammer said. “I’m sure he’s very sincere on that. It is a little odd that he shows up in the briefing room, where he hasn’t shown up in the briefing room for about, what — a month and a half on Libya, or for everything else for that matter? Then you get the photo-ops of him in the situation room deploying, I guess, the utility crews who will restore power all over America.

Whereas you would think he might want to use the situation room and had convened high-level people during the nine hours our people were under attack in Benghazi.”

Krauthammer went on to explain why the onus of the disaster prep and relief isn’t on the president, but on the governors of states. But in this instance he suggested it is serving as an opportunity for the commander-in-chief to steer the momentum of the election back his way.

“It’s hard to look at this, playing the president, playing the commander-in-chief in what’s a natural disaster that really doesn’t a lot of leadership from the White House,” Krauthammer said. “It’s up to the governors mostly. The White House and the governors release money. That’s about all that they do. And he’s really good at releasing money and pretending it’s not about politics.

Of course it's likely some on the left will say Krauthammer is politicizing the situation for simply stating an opinion about the facts.

See the video and read the rest of the transcript here.

In my opinion it is worth contrasting the reaction to this storm and the reaction to Katrina in 2006, specifically noting the difference in behavior between representatives of the two parties.

Most specifically, as the storm clears and the need for damage control is assessed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, is acting as a team player and offering nothing but cooperation with President Obama. In fact, he specifically shot down a question about the possibility of a partisan divide between the two parties in wake of this tragedy.

Contrast that with the reaction of the Democrat Mayor of New Orleans and Governor of Louisiana Kathleen Blanco, who were immediate in their blame for George W. Bush and the federal government, before a true evaluation of the events took place.

Bush was practically accused of having created the storm and bringing it on shore, and of course it was for raaaaacist reasons that the feds were unable to respond as quickly and thoroughly as Democrats desired.

In the aftermath of both storms, we know now that Governor Christie was adamant in his message that New Jersey residents evacuate, and that insistence likely saved many lives. Contrarily, local officials in New Orleans and Louisiana had days of warning including statements from federal officials, yet after Katrina had passed we learned there were parking lots full of school buses that were left unused.

Those buses could have evacuated and saved hundreds if not thousands of lives, yet the Democrats in this instance instantly pointed the finger of blame – at George W. Bush.

Sounds all too familiar…


Anonymous said...

Hmm… From what I remember about this is was not President Bush that took the brunt of the blame. Instead it was FEMA and its director Mike Brown who received the blame. Sure, the Bush administration took some blame but so did nearly every level of government that was involved. The whole thing was a mess. Democrats, Republicans and individuals outside of politics acted so slowly to help it was pathetic. Add to that the compete ignorance of the people of New Orleans who refused to leave their homes, their businesses, and their city and you have the perfect recipe for disaster.

Spinning this to a "they blamed Bush so why aren't we blaming Obama" thing is just ridiculous. We might as well all be back in high school if this is how it's being perceived. No matter how much hate you have for President Obama this is one attack that is completely unwarranted.

Before you continue to trash Obama any further for this both here and on Twitter you might want to do a little comparison between two incidents that you brought up right here in this very blog post to see just how similarly each President reacted to their own unique situation.

Here's what Bush had to say about Katrina:
"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government and to the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility,"

Here's what Obama had to say about Benghazi:
"I am ultimately responsible for what's taking place there because these are my folks, and I'm the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home"
"Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me. I'm the president and I'm always responsible, and that's why nobody's more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do."

That's about as fair and balanced as comparisons get. Both presidents taking responsibility in the wake of a tragedy.

Now is when it should time to investigate, not blame, not go on a witch hunt. Honestly and truly investigate to find out what happened and find ways to keep it from happening again. Acting like high school kids pointing the finger at each other across the cafeteria accomplishes absolutely nothing but widening the gap between our already divided parties and the people of The United States of America.

Your brother.

Dixon Webb said...

Geez . . . . Dubya again !