Monday, July 9, 2012
Presidential Re-Elections and the Mistress of Mother Nature
With the rash of Natural Disasters happening in the U.S. over the past few months, you gotta wonder if Mother Nature is having hot flashes. In the past 2 months alone, we’ve seen Colorado aflame, monster rainstorms sweep through States like runaway freight trains, record shattering high temperatures and the Pittsburgh Pirates are in 1st place. It’s the end of Earth I tell ya’
And with all this bad weather, Al Gore is sitting in his Tennessee environmentally enhanced mansion, rubbing his hands together to embark on another “Global Warming” tour. Or wait, is it the “Climate Climax Awareness" tour?
Today, there are still roughly 200K people in Tennessee, Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia still without power from the previous week’s powerful storm cell and their lives are miserable because so many can’t check their Fantasy Golf, NASCAR and Baseball leagues without services.
Oh the humanity of not having modern technology working.
But with any Natural Disaster, be it from Hurricane, Flood, Tornado, Earthquake or whatever there’s always one equation that sinks in: Natural Disaster + Election Year + Swing States + Relief Money = Votes.
Reason.com’s Gene Healy penned “Obama’s Disaster-Prone Presidency” to which he talks about how presidents, mainly "W" and "O," play politics with Disaster relief funding
That’s right, it didn’t take long for pundits to put together that it's an election year and the current President, Mr. Barrack Obama has already rapidly toured devastated sites or declared disaster funds in States that are considered “Swing States.”
Per Mr. Healy's article, “W” averaged 129 disaster relief declarations in his 8 year term, while the big “O” declared 242 in 2011 alone!
But I wondered how the previous administrations fared, so let's look further at the Re-election year disaster scenario, let’s skip and trip down disaster memory lane some 30 years ago.
Pres. Reagan was heading into the 1984 re-election campaign on a wave of popularity. Even Democrats had conceded the notion that he already won the election thanks in part to their lackluster candidate Walter Mondale. Reagan still declared close to 35 disasters in the U.S. that year, the biggest was Hurricane Diana.
Along with the string of hurricanes was the flood at Glen Canyon Dam and the Morgan Hill earthquake.
In 1988, Pres George HW Bush walked into office thanks to Reagan’s popularity and (again) a weak Democratic opponent in Michael Dukakis, but not even a huge victory in the Persian Gulf War could help the elder Bush against his 1992 challenger, Bill Clinton.
Pres Bush declared 90 disasters in 1992 the biggest was Hurricane Andrew that caused over $43 Billion in damages. And with Andrew came Bonnie and Danielle.
A wave of tornadoes struck the US between June & November that caused destruction in 14 States, from Colorado to Maryland and southern States of Mississippi, Carolinas, and Texas.
The elder Bush lost his re-election bid, but Con-taking pundits lay that disaster on Ross Perot’s 3rd Party presidential bid.
In 1996, the comeback kid Bill Clinton, was battling a strongly divisive America, but just like Reagan’s re-election bid, he faced weak opponents in Republican Bob Dole and Independent Ross Perot.
Clinton had his share of natural disasters with 75 declarations in 1996. Clinton’s 1996 disasters didn’t begin with Speaker Newt Gingrich but with a blizzard in the Northeastern States.
But along the way, he had Hurricanes Arthur, Bertha, Eduard along with 4 others, plus Tropical storm Josephine.
Clinton also found the time to declare the Dome Fire in New Mexico a natural disaster as well.
As mentioned earlier, Pres George W Bush averaged 129 natural disaster declarations during his 8 years, but 2004 was his busiest.
Now we can call it politics or a pissed off Mother Nature or go the Pat Robertson way and blame “gays in the military,” but in his re-election year of 2004, he declared 138.
“W” was busy in 2004 with over 11 hurricanes, including Ivan that consumed much of the Eastern US with powerful rainstorms and floods. The Hurricanes of Charley, Ivan and Frances combined a total of $38 billion worth of destruction.
But is there a coincidence with the amount of money spent on disaster relief and a declared disaster State?
When the big “O” came into office, he had planned on changing the monetary philosophy of FEMA, whose practice was to write checks for whatever the Governor(s) estimated damages to be. But the practice clincher was that if a Governor stated “we have an estimated $15 billion in damages,” FEMA wrote the check for $15 billion and if total costs came in less than the estimate, the State kept the change!
So the Big “O” had the practice re-written so that FEMA now gives out enough money to get repairs started and have the State(s) submit receipts for reimbursement. Well with that said, it led Texas Gov Rick Perry to declare “Obama hates Texas.”
See Gov Perry is one of the biggest cronies out there to overestimate and add the change to his state’s budget and like the “Great Gonzo” the move created a surplus for the State to make it pretty at fiscal year’s end. Perry is/was dependent upon federal money coming into Texas regardless of the words that come out of his mouth.
There’s no doubt that the Media thrives on all types of stories, whether it be Supreme Court decisions or Natural Disasters, they help inflate the issues for ratings purposes. When people are in need, the Media becomes vultures on the bodies.
Case in point, in 2011, a wave of tornadoes rolled through the Southeast, causing massive destruction with the biggest happening in Joplin, Missouri.
A Media firestorm brewed between MSNBC and Fox News because of the action or rather inaction depending on which network you prefer of Pres Obama.
When the tornadoes struck, Pres Obama was packing his bags for Europe and after a few days Fox News’ talker Laura Ingraham wondered aloud where he was and why he was still planning his European trip on her syndicated radio show, questioning his dedication to US citizens need for help.
Well, MSNBC resident blowhard Ed Shultz took upon himself to defend Pres Obama on his syndicated radio show by attacking Ms. Ingraham with 5th grade playground venom by calling her a “rightwing slut” in a spit filled rant.
The partisan pundits quickly forgot about the problem at hand in Joplin and ran with the story of these two verbally attacking each other for the rest of the day.
Those comments led to MSNBC suspending Shultz and for him to begin his show with an apology to Ms. Ingraham which she graciously accepted, but Shultz’ actions have become just another sound bite for other Con-talking pundits to run every day since.
I truly never understood the great rush for a President to visit a natural disaster site. I can understand why a local politician would rush, but the people want to see their Insurance Adjuster, Services providers and other community departments working to start life moving again, not some glad handing politician looking for a photo-op.
One thing is for sure, with the partisan Media growing everyday through television, internet and both publication & e-magazines, the microscope of every daily presidential re-election motion is dissected hundreds of times over, even more disgusting to the point that everyone will look for the most mundane fact into tomorrow’s big story.
Slap the Tap, pour me a Guinness in a disaster free spill proof Sippy cup and pay your political tab.
Posted by todd kelly at 11:44 PM