The Unbiased Eye

A scientist's commentary on events and culture

Hurricane Politics

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Reality Sequel to the Perfect Storm

The sequel to the Perfect Storm is being made now, and in a big hurry.

A big hurricane is moving fast up the East Coast and it will be so much more authentic to skip the extras and just use news shots.

You see, this movie will not be about fishing boats, and it won’t star George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane or any Hollywood actors. It’s got a whole new plot and a whole new cast.

The idea is more like a reality show that has proved to be such a boon for television. Instead of commercial fishing, this one will concern the politics game as the very threatening hurricane named Sandy merges with a strong cold front moving in on the Northeast from the opposite direction. You can see the shots of campaign strategists watching the ominous weather radar pictures as mother nature puts the squeeze on the populous coast. The drama comes from how the two campaigns manage their figureheads’ images.

A news photo of George W. Bush in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The headline said, “Bush struggles to find the right tone on disaster”.

This is serious business. It’s not that presidents have much to do with the weather, nor can the weather be predicted with pinpoint precision. But after the fact, thousands of armchair leaders comb through the reports and testimony and in a crisis, a leader can lose his reputation through no fault of his own. And at the same time a candidate can look ridiculous jumping around about a crisis without having something coherent to say — like John McCain’s confusion when the American economy, undermined by an unregulated Wall Street for years, went into a sudden tailspin during the 2008 campaign, a downturn that we have not yet recovered from.

To see what I mean, earlier in this campaign season, Obama raised the spectre of George W. Bush’s 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster to tout his administration’s handling of the much smaller Hurricane Isaac. The details are in this article in the Business Insider.

On the other hand, there is a great deal for a fleet-footed politician to gain from what they do after a disaster that was unpredictable without hindsight. Look at the case of Rudy Giuliani, the New York mayor who became a hero for looking stricken as he read the police reports in the days after the 2001 terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center. He became an instant contender for the Republican nomination. Giuliani was out there in front of the cameras every day, looking and sounding just right.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York on the scene near the rubble of the World Trade Center in 2001. People believed he cared. That’s all.

Bush, indeed, was criticized for not sounding right after the attacks — although he did not really urge Americans to go out and shop. Before anyone complains that I’m defending Bush, I want to say that he did the nation serious harm by both his irresponsible tax cuts for the rich (sound familiar?) and his specious war against Iraq in the remainder of his two terms in office.

We can see clearly that much is at stake as the hurricane approaches. Everything can go poof in the storm. Romney must be careful not to look like an over-eager idiot. He won’t have the opportunity to back track on this one; his campaign won’t be able to explain away or spin away flatfooted spontaneous remarks. This is not a boring issue like taxes; this is a hurricane. And Obama. Obama’s got the most at stake. Four years of hard work and accomplishments in very difficult circumstances, during which he withstood relentless attacks from the radical factions among the Republicans. A wrong word could make him a casualty.

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Written by theunbiasedeye

October 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm

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