John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Obama’s Katrina?

Posted on November 3, 2012

New Yorkers stand in long lines for gas in the wake of Sandy.



The conventional wisdom about Sandy’s political fallout has been that the tragic impact of the storm would prove to be good for President Obama.  He could look Presidential by doing his job, and the American people could feel good about the American people once again coming together in the face of a human tragedy.

And in the first couple of days, things unfolded according to the script.  Chris Christie gave the President a surprisingly warm, wet kiss, and Obama had the chance to hug a few victims.

Worse for Romney, it came out that during the primary, he had said something about privatizing FEMA, and it looked like Mitt-mentum had been stopped in its tracks.

I was never convinced that people were looking at how the President handled this crisis before deciding how to vote.  Indeed, a pretty high percentage of voters had already cast their ballots, and those who were holding back were voters of the more reliable sort.

Now, I am beginning to wonder if Sandy is turning into Obama’s Katrina.

New York is a complete mess.  Staten Islanders are plagued with a lack of supplies.  The Red Cross hasn’t been as timely as they usually are, FEMA (despite the fine leadership of Craig Fugate) is its typical disorganized self, and the pictures of desperation, long lines for gas, and anger at all politicians is pretty well-evident.

It didn’t help that Mayor Bloomberg completely muffed the decision on the New York Marathon.  It really was a no-brainer.  The last thing that the Big Apple needs is a bunch of tourists to come in the city and take up valuable hotel rooms, gasoline, food and other resources.

In a humanitarian crisis, you don’t allow a marathon to go forward.  Why it took the Mayor that long to make that decision is mystifying.   That the Mayor screwed it up right after he endorsed President Obama probably didn’t took the boost away from the endorsement.

Mr. Obama could have gotten some bang out of being President had he decided to do it for a while longer.  Instead, he couldn’t wait to shed the responsibility of being the Chief Executive and put back his Campaigner-in-Chief costume on.

So, as the people of Staten Island and New Jersey continue to suffer, the President decides to slip back into his most partisan, Mitt Romney-hates-poor-people message points.  It is a jarring split-screen.  And it puts the voters in a bad mood.

When voters are in a bad mood, the vote for change.  When voters think things are going well, they vote for the status quo.

Things aren’t going well.  That is what the pictures from New York and New Jersey tell us.  That spells doom for the status quo.