It’s really amazing the faux wailing and gnashing of teeth we’ve seen in the national media over the last couple of days now that Isaac will be making landfall in Louisiana rather than Florida. We’re now seeing professional reporters ask whether the Republican Party shouldn’t cancel its convention because a hurricane is hitting someplace else hundreds of miles away.
Mitt Romney was asked about whether the convention shouldn’t be canceled at least twice yesterday. And ABC News offered this, which is a regurgitation of the legacy media’s narrative about the GOP having a party this week…
Gulf Coast governors in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi have already declared states of emergency as Isaac approaches, evacuation orders have gone out for low-lying areas of the coast and residents were making preparations for what experts say will eventually become a Category 1 hurricane.
That poses a second problem for Romney and the Republicans: The celebratory optics of a national convention coinciding with a potentially destructive weather event on U.S. soil just does not look right.
Campaign officials say they are monitoring the weather minute-by-minute and that they will be nimble enough to make adjustments depending on what happens once Isaac makes landfall, but this turn of events is certainly not helping them amplify the themes they had originally hoped to highlight this week.
This is asinine.
Canceling the first day of the convention when it looked like Tampa would be hit was defensible, even though in retrospect it’s worth questioning as Dennis Prager did today.
Canceling the whole convention when by tomorrow the weather at the site will be wholly unremarkable is absurd. It’s as absurd as the Convention of Wimps canceling a day of the festivities in Minneapolis in 2008 was in response to Hurricane Gustav hitting Louisiana.
Complete absurdity, and it was emblematic of the campaign John McCain ran that year – a loser of a campaign which richly deserved its destruction on Election Day.
The show must go on, plain and simple. What Republicans are doing in Tampa is important stuff. The future of the country depends on it.
And unlike 2008, the Republicans in Tampa aren’t responsible for what happens in Louisiana. When Gustav hit the GOP held the White House and the party was scared to death about the political effect of another storm hitting and ravaging the New Orleans area like Katrina did on the watch of George W. Bush, who was still president at that time, it was at least understandable that the party insiders would have a “pucker factor” that would ruin the first day of the convention anyway.
But now? It’s on Obama’s watch now.
Of course, you won’t hear anyone suggest that the Democrats cancel their convention next week so as not to have a party while poor people in places like Cocodrie, Grand Isle and Venice attempt to salvage what’s left of their homes in the wake of a killer storm. Not a single peep about that so far – even though by the standard we held Barack Obama’s predecessor to in 2005, everything that goes wrong in the aftermath of the hurricane is his responsibility.
And it’s not like Obama or the Democrats are losing sleep over the storm. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal asked the president for a federal declaration of a state of emergency over the weekend and he didn’t even fully get one. What he got was sort of a half-assed declaration which denies Louisiana reimbursement of disaster costs it’s entitled to for major events such as this.
The bill so far for that is about $8 million already spent by the state and its local subsidiaries, which isn’t going to particularly break the bank. But since people like Howard Kurtz are crying crocodile tears about how this will be Mitt Romney’s lost moment because of how it’s going to look to have a party in Tampa while hurricane parties are going on in New Orleans, it’s not Romney but Obama who would seem to be on the hook for a lack of attention to the impending disaster in the Gulf.
This entire debate shows us what we’ve lost as a country. Time was in America it was considered a virtue to do your job, carry on your responsibilities and keep the trains running regardless of outside circumstances; dedication and perseverance were praised as virtues. Now they’re signs of insensitivity; you’re supposed to drop what you’re doing and put your life on hold because somebody, somewhere is in trouble? And this is considered a sign that you care?
Well, to the extent this has merit – as a pundit of Louisiana heritage and residence, I hereby grant permission to the Republicans in Tampa to do their work this week – and more, to have a good time doing it.
There is nothing whatsoever Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Reince Priebus, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and the rest can do to stop this storm from hitting. Or doing damage. Or to aid in hurricane preparations along the northern Gulf Coast. What’s more, it’s not their responsibility; it’s ours. Jindal was going to speak at the convention and now he’s back in Louisiana coordinating our efforts to deal with this thing, as he should – it’s what we elected him for.
We’ll do our job. You do yours. And if you’re asked by the “gotcha” crowd in the media who want to build a narrative that you don’t care about Louisiana – and specifically that you don’t care about the black people in New Orleans, because after Katrina that was more or less all the media gave a rat’s derriere about – respond by telling them you’re setting about your own business because somebody in this country has to.
If in the aftermath of this thing there are public policy questions about hurricane preparedness or recovery – for example, if the billions of dollars of levees the Corps of Engineers have built around New Orleans since Katrina don’t protect the city this time maybe we should re-examine whether these people ought to be the lead agency in managing the coast, or if we can learn lessons about coastal erosion from this storm that might be addressed through federal action – then one would hope that the Romney campaign would engage that discussion and offer some sound ideas. Next week.
Short of that, though, Isaac is not the problem of the GOP delegates from North Dakota or Utah or Connecticut. If you guys aren’t up nights worrying about us this week, we’re not going to be offended.
Y’all have a good time. If you want to say a prayer for us, we appreciate it. But we don’t want your pity, and we especially don’t want you to neglect your business out of some sort of self-indulgent sympathy for people who can damn well take care of ourselves.
If the Democrats want to do that, let them.