Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Monday, October 29, 2012 7:12 pm

Pierce on Sandy and who we are as a nation

As I write, I imagine that all kinds of hell is breaking loose in the Northeast, the kinds of hell that, among other things, make it difficult to report in real time on what kinds of hell are breaking loose. I’ve covered hurricanes before, and believe me when I tell you that it is No Damn Fun, from getting sandblasted by what used to be that dune over there to living on Lance Toastchees and bottled water from your trunk for four days while wearing the same clothes and being unable to bathe to trying to navigate a car that don’t float when half or more of the bridges are underwater. People, including myself, joke about the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore as the Angel of Death, but I’ve done Cantore’s job (albeit for a different news outlet), and I would have to think very, very hard before doing it again, for love or money.

It’s bad enough in any one location. But when all hell breaks loose in a huge region, and when that region is the most heavily populated of its size in the country … well, we have no precedent for this. And when it happens a week before a presidential election, the potential for feces to hit the fan is shattering the glass on every meter in the boiler room.

And yet there also is likely to be an enormous point of clarity coming out of this event, as Charlie Pierce explains:

However, as to the campaign itself, and taking as axiomatic that almost anything can “impact” an election as close as this one apparently is shaping up to be, there’s absolutely no telling what the effect of massive four-day weather event in the middle of this week will have on the events of the middle of next week. Certainly, in situations like this, the president has several trump cards he can play simply by virtue of being the incumbent. He can act as president. He can engage FEMA and the rest of the federal disaster apparatus to help those governors, Republican and Democratic, who are in the path of the storm. (He just might be in more pictures with Chris Christie over the next week than with Joe Biden.) He can demonstrate, top to bottom, by example, why “leaving it to the states” and, worse, “the private sector can do it better” are empty platitudes. The storm is hitting 12 states. This is something we need to do as one country. …

The problem, of course, is that a good piece of the political opposition doesn’t recognize this president as president when the sun’s shining. The people who will tell you that disaster relief is best left to the states, or to the private sector, are going be howling at the White House if some cat isn’t brought down from a tree in Cape May in less than five minutes. There are a thousand things that can go unavoidably wrong in a situation like this. It is the most fertile environment imaginable for unpredictability. The good news for the president is that he’s in charge. The bad news for the president is that he’s in charge, and the opposition is still truthless, and demented.

(Pardon this interruption from your host for this illustration of just how demented that opposition is:)

(We now return you to Pierce:)

Here’s the last thing that I’d like to throw out there before we all go 1856 all over for a while. This entire campaign has been fought out over the issue of whether or not we are all members of a viable political commonwealth with implicit mutual obligations to act through our government — a self-government that is, or ought to be, the purest creative project of that commonwealth — for the common good, or whether that government is some sort of alien entity repressing our fundamental entrepreneurial energy. Over the next few days, I believe, we are going to see that argument brought to the sharpest point possible. If you want to see how this event will “impact the election,” look to what answer to that question emerges from the storm. It will tell us a lot about the election, and about ourselves.

When the Framers put the phrase “general welfare” into the preamble to the Constitution, things like Sandy were what they had in mind. And whether we remember that fact over the next week and more will determine whether we keep, and whether we deserve to keep, the “Republic, if you can keep it” that Benjamin Franklin and his compatriots bestowed upon us when that document was signed.


  1. Cross posted on Cone….

    I am just waiting for Obama to start asking those NY’ers and NE’sters for “their dollar” so he can get FEMA on the case

    Obama Insisted On State-Local Stafford Act Funding After Joplin Missouri Tornado

    ” Despite his harsh criticism of the George W. Bush administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2007, President Obama decided not to waive a requirement that state and local governments contribute 25 percent of relief funds devoted to cleaning up after a tornado that swept through Joplin, Mo. in May 2011.

    The Stafford Act requires those matching funds in order to collect federal disaster relief money, but that requirement may be modified or even waived at the president’s discretion.

    “What’s happening down in New Orleans,” Obama asked in a video of a June 2007 speech at Hampton University obtained by The Daily Caller. “Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money?”

    Obama misstated the Stafford Act’s requirements, saying that Hurricane Katrina-ravaged communities — mostly black communities — were expected to contribute ten percent of the rebuilding funds on their own.

    The federal government, he complained, hadn’t footed the entire bill for Katrina cleanup as it had in the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Andrew.

    But the Obama administration responded the same way to the Joplin tornado as the Bush administration had after Katrina, by declining to cover the entire cost of disaster relief.

    Bush, however, waived the Stafford Act at times to provide more support to Katrina’s victims. In May 2007, weeks before Obama’s initial criticism of the Katrina relief effort, the Bush administration provided an additional $6.9 billion to affected areas.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Wednesday, October 31, 2012 2:06 am @ 2:06 am

  2. Nice bit of goalpost-moving, Fred. We’re not talking about whether or to what extent Stafford will be invoked; we’re talking about whether there will be a FEMA, or anything like it, at all. That’s quite a bit different.

    And I suppose it’s only coincidence that Jeb Bush is going into the for-profit disaster-relief business. I only wish I were kidding:

    Comment by Lex — Wednesday, October 31, 2012 7:15 am @ 7:15 am

  3. You forgot that Romney wants diry air, dirty water and is itching to throw Grandma over the cliff. Remember he murdered Joe Soptic’s wife.

    Like one of the Romney sons was going into/was in the voting machine bidness ? Oh forget that . Leftist wingnut rumor/smear.

    Hey, re Jeb, it is still enterprise and that stuff… like free speech and all.. except for that poor dumb slob, still in jail, that made the youtube disparaging Islam , which was not responsible for the planned terrorist attcak on our Consulate and the murder of Ambassador Stevens and 3 other American heros but was used by the dishonest and incompetent POTUS as a crutch to mislead the American people. Treansonus and impeachable !!

    You voted for him..why?.. don’t bother

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, November 1, 2012 7:07 pm @ 7:07 pm

    • Yeah, yeah, we get it, Fred, you hate Obama. At least he’s trying to do the greater good for the greater number, unless his sociopathic opponent.



      Comment by Lex — Thursday, November 1, 2012 7:59 pm @ 7:59 pm

  4. Don’t hate him. Oppose his policies. Question his competence and leadership abilities. Offended by his class warfare, dirty campaign tactics. Curious about his dubious claim of executive privilege on Fast & Furious. Appalled by his DOE loans to his crony’s bankrupt epic fail green energy ventures. Concerned for fellow Americans who are in poverty and jobless for who Obama has done zilch. Disgusted by his appeal to black voters to vote for him based on race

    I could go on but no I don’t hate him.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, November 3, 2012 12:04 am @ 12:04 am

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