Hurricane Sandy reveals much about candidates
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:11
Hurricane Sandy is a particularly hot topic these days, and it’s all too easy to let the storm become a political football instead of treating it with the gravitas it merits. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was right when he said dealing with the storm and its effects was far more important than worrying how it would factor into the presidential election.
But now the worst has passed, and we’re in damage-control mode. It seems prudent to ask how the two candidates differ on disaster relief and the government’s role in it.
On one side, we have Obama, who seems to believe that the government has a responsibility to care for its citizens and rescue them from hazards such as Hurricane Sandy. Gov. Christie, the keynote speaker at this year’s Republican National Convention, said of Obama, "He’s been very attentive, and anything that I’ve asked for, he’s gotten to me. So, I thank the president publicly for that. He’s done – as far as I’m concerned – a great job for New Jersey."
Perhaps an even greater endorsement of Obama came, inadvertently, from former FEMA director Michael "Brownie" Brown, the mastermind behind the botched government response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Brown said that Obama reacted to Hurricane Sandy too quickly. Granted, he was saying this as a roundabout, ham-fisted way of criticizing Obama’s handling of the Benghazi crisis, but his words ring as absurd as his nickname.
On the other side we have Romney, who stated during a Republican primary debate that the U.S. government shouldn’t be providing disaster relief. He recommended the states – or even better, the private sector – take over that role.
Apparently, Romney looked at the unbelievable corruption and bloat which has befallen the war in Iraq through privatization and thought to himself, "How can I bring this festering cesspool of greed and taxpayer fraud home?"
After all, who would be better for providing disaster relief than Blackwater?
In that same response, Romney went on to add that any spending that adds to our deficit, which apparently includes disaster relief, is immoral. So Romney thinks that spending money on disaster relief for U.S. citizens is immoral, but that it’s a great idea to fork over $2 trillion to the military that the military did not request.
Is spending an additional $2 trillion not going to affect our deficit? Or does Romney think that cutting $2 trillion from other U.S. government programs will not have a significant impact on Americans?
This begs the question: is Romney just bad at math, or does he think that the only worthwhile purpose of the U.S. government is maintaining a massive military?
Another depressing story coming from the Romney campaign is that just like the Paul Ryan dishwashing story, they’ve managed to somehow mess up storm relief. Apparently, the Red Cross doesn’t like donors to contribute goods. As it turns out, the Red Cross has a specific system for packaging and distributing goods for relief. If you give them goods, their employees have to unpack whatever you give them, then reorganize and repack it, costing them time. There’s a big disclaimer on the front of the Red Cross’ website which tells donors not to send goods, but to send money instead.
So naturally, the Romney campaign sends the Red Cross goods instead of money. Now if they had simply been collecting the goods and turning them over to the Red Cross, that would be one thing. But the Romney campaign shelled out $5,000 to buy supplies, then brought them to its Ohio rally and handed them out to supporters to bring into the event as "donations."
So, the Romney campaign disregarded the Red Cross’ instructions in favor of a more politically advantageous photo op.
After all, a press release saying that the campaign had donated money to the Red Cross doesn’t speak as loudly as a picture of Romney graciously accepting "donations" with his sleeves symbolically rolled up.