The Politics of Disaster

The GOP had no choice but to tamp-down if not all together cancel most of the activities of the convention. But make no mistake John McCain and his campaign are attempting to use this as a political opportunity. It’s a partcularly welcome set of events for Senator McCain. He gets to basically ditch a political convention, the kind of event that he has a history of loathing, and head over to a disaster zone, have meaningless meetings with local officials since he’s still a sitting senator, not an actual president. He will stand in flooded areas…and get the kind of presidential money-shots campaigns usually have to scramble to create. For more on the McCain/GOP approach to Hurricane Gustav, check out The Fix’s Take

My favorite quote:

“As long as we properly handle the Gustavication of the convention, it may be a positive,” said one GOP operative. He added that with the exception of speeches by Palin and McCain “everything else is just an opportunity to make a mistake or distract from the historic nature of the ticket.”

Contrast that with Senator Obama’s answer, ala Ben Smith:

After explaining that his campaign planned on mobilizing its email list to coordinate volunteers and donations, Obama said the following…

“A big storm like this raises bipartisan concerns and I think for John to want to find out what’s going on is fine.”

“The thing that I always am concerned about in the middle of a storm is whether we’re drawing resources away from folks on the ground because the Secret Service and various security requirements, sometimes it pulls police, fire and other departments away from concentrating on the job.”

“I’m assuming that where he went that wasn’t an issue. Were going to try to stay clear of the area until things have settled down and then we’ll probably try to figure out how we can be as helpful as possible.”

Keep your eye out for grandstanding on both sides of the aisle over the next day. As thankfully this time around it looks like New Orleans has heeded the bombastic warnings of Mayor Ray Nagin and cleared out. John McCain is going to attempt to frame this a “proper response” to a disaster and oh by the way forget about the photos of him and Bush celebrating his birthday when Katrina struck…three years ago.



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