There can be no doubt that the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has highlighted Mitt Romney’s disregard for the needs of those less fortunate than he (practically everyone) .
He has simply rebranded his Ohio campaign events as “storm relief” events and continued on as normal, with a kabuki show of collecting tinned foodstuffs and blankets for the red Cross when that organisation itself says those kinds of donations are exactly what’s not needed – they take too much time and money to collect into meaningful amounts then redistribute – but instead concerned citizens should send cash which can be used to buy needed supplies in bulk for bulk handling, or donate much-needed blood. Fat chance of Romney donating any of his blue stuff, no word on whether he’s cut Red Cross a check yet.
So far he’s refusing to go anywhere near the worst affected areas, despite an invite from Gov. Chris Christie to come inspect the damage.
In the run-up to landfall he “reached out” to governors in areas expected to affected to offer his best wishes and moral support - but only to the Republican ones. He compouded that error by calling FEMA to ask for a briefing, despite having no stature in law to do so – taking FEMA senior staff away from crucial tasks at a crucial time.
His campaign staff are frantically backpedalling on his statement last year that FEMA should be abolished, with its role privatized or entirely handed over to the states. They’re now saying the states should lead efforts, with FEMA offering financial support and additional manpower as needed – but that’s how it works right now! Eugene Robinson writes: Was Romney really saying that the federal government should abdicate the task of responding to natural disasters such as the one now taking place? Yes, he was. Did he really mean it? Well, with Romney, that’s always another question.”
Neither Romney nor his running mate Ryan are being forthcoming on whether they think all the federal spending on disaster relief for Sandy’s aftermath should be offset by spending cuts elsewhere, as Ryan’s budget demands. They’ve been asked – but they just don’t answer.
Mitt Romney refused to answer reporters’ questions about how he would handle the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), after a Tuesday “storm relief” event in Ohio for Hurricane Sandy.
From the Romney pool report:
TV pool asked Romney at least five times whether he would eliminate FEMA as president/what he would do with FEMA. He ignored the qs but they are audible on cam. The music stopped at points and the qs would have been audible to him.
A follow-up report noted the specific questions Romney ignored, as he was collecting hurricane supplies following his event:
“Gov are you going to eliminate FEMA?” a print pooler shouted, receiving no response.Wires reporters asked more questions about FEMA that were ignored.
Romney kept coming over near pool to pick up more water. He ignored these questions:
“Gov are you going to see some storm damage?”
“Gov has [New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie invited you to come survey storm damage?”
“Gov you’ve been asked 14 times, why are you refusing to answer the question?”
The optics of that are terrible – it looks like moral cowardice of the most craven kind, becuase that’s exactly what it is.
In the run-up to landfall, you could smell the eagerness with which Republicans wanted Sandy to be “Obama’s Katrina”. Governor Christie put a huge dent in that wished-for narrative today. However, Sandy is shaping up to be Romney’s Katrina.
Update: from Joan Walsh at Salon - Romney compares hurricane disaster relief to clearing up paper and rubbish after a football game.
Update 2: What Charles P. Pierce said.
Based on what the various candidates actually have told the people whose votes they are soliciting, over the past 48 hours, it has been far better for the nation that Barack Obama and Joseph Biden are running the executive branch than it would have been had those jobs been held by Willard Romney and Paul Ryan. Both of the latter are on record — and on audiotape, and on video, and all over the Intertoobz, and, for all I know, bellowing from the fillings in your teeth — as recommending that the federal government’s responsibility for things like disaster relief be either handed back to the states, or privatized entirely. They have made this argument in public. They have made this argument as part of the reason why you should vote for them. They also have similar plans for the National Weather Service, and for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and they have made those arguments as part of the reason why you should vote for them. If those ideas had prevailed, and those plans had been passed through the Congress, and signed by President Romney, more people would have died because of this storm, and more people would still be dying from this storm two or three weeks from now.
What they are saying now in an attempt to walk back their earlier arguments is almost assuredly nothing but a barrel full of lies. They’d be out there saying the very same things today if they hadn’t gotten blindsided by this storm. Do you honestly think, absent the arrival of Miss Sandra along the east coast, Willard Romney and Paul Ryan would be out there refining their opinion on federal disaster relief? That they would have abandoned the notion of handing disaster relief back to the states, or to their various corporate cronies. That they would have distanced themselves from barely camouflaged bigots like John Sununu, who repeatedly calls the president “lazy”?
…now, after these two days, it ought not to be beyond the pale to “politicize” the simple fact that, even though the Republican half of it was an embarrassing clown show, this election has come down to a battle between two visions of the the functions of the national government and, through that, a battle over whether the political commonwealth exists at all. It is not politicizing anything to point out the obvious fact that one side of these arguments is lying as a soggy pulpish object on the beaches of New Jersey, and the other one is out there trying to get the lights back on.
This is so true it is surely face-smackingly obvious to everyone except nepotistically-enabled morons like J-Pod.