American Elephants

The Sad Story of What Might Have Been. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama got a bit of a boost in the polls, apparently from the perception that he did a better job with this emergency than President Bush did during Hurricane Katrina. Memories are a little faulty. The federal government was not able, by law, to go into Louisiana to provide help to New Orleans and other communities until federal help was requested by the governor. Bush begged for formal permission, but it was not granted until far too late.

Who was the newsman in the boat looking like a hero among the floodwaters until someone walked through the 6″ deep water behind the boat in ordinary boots? That was a telling moment that demonstrated what the media response would be.

So Obama helicoptered over New Jersey with Governor Christie, landed briefly, extolled FEMA, and got a campaign bounce? How about getting bottled water and MREs helicoptered in? Obama could have done something besides appear, and get credit. He got his little pat on the back for paying attention, and then was off to the campaign again. Probably never occurred to him to do more.

Ahhh.  Missed opportunities. What if the presidential response had been: ‘Where’s our nearest military facility with helicopters at hand. Let’s load them up with bottled water and MREs for those people who are hungry and thirsty and get them in there.’ Major bounce.  Way more than a mere appearance. Why didn’t that occur to anyone?  Enough to win an election? Maybe.

As long as we’re playing around with missed opportunities and possible responses: What if upon seeing the military-style attack on the consulate in Libya, someone has said ‘What assets do we have right there? We have two AC-130s? Turn them loose on those terrorists. That’s our embassy and those are our Americans.’ And what if he had asked ‘where’s our closest rapid response team and how fast can you get them there to save our men?’ Well, that missed opportunity would have won the election. But that would have taken a different president with different priorities.


2 Comments so far
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Obama had an opportunity here, yes. but since he has no knowledge of how to be a leader (he could have taken some notes from Gov. Christie), he went back to the one thing that he knows how to do… be a candidate. It’s the only thing he’s ever really had any success at, and apparently the only thing he really enjoys doing. He had a (being generous here) lackluster career in the Illinois Legislature, was virtually non-existant as a US Senator, and has gauged everything he has done in office by how it would help him politcally, and has essentially been running for re-election for the past two years (and for anyone reading this that wants to carp that Romney has been running since 2008, may I point out that 1) he had the time to do it since he had no other job (he’s rich, you know), and 2) Obama WAS the President – all he had to do was perform the job competently and a sychophant media would take care of the rest).

As an aside, I will note that for all of those talking about how much better and more efficient FEMA is now (I worked Katrina recovery in New Orleans, and just spent the past week in Point Pleasant, NJ – my grandparents have a house in Hammonton (it’s fine)), I’ll just say it’s working about the same – a federal bureaucracy that has the money, but has no idea what to do with it. My brother works at Quantico for MARFORSYSCOM (Marine Force Systems Command), and they got donations together for people in the NY/NJ areas affected. No one knew where to send the truck, and FEMA couldn’t give a definitive answer. So my brother called the local St. Vincent DePaul, and got directions on who to see, where to go, and how to get there, as well as what was needed. Success!


Comment by Lon Mead

I think he is a tiny bit aware of what he doesn’t know — I have assumed that is the reason for all the Czars, though that may be wrong and he just wants somebody else to do the work. If you think through what we have learned about him, he has been given everything. His state legislature races, the extra lot next to his house, his job as a part-time instructor at U. Chicago was the result of a phone call that told Law school officials to find something for him to do. The chairmanship of the Annenberg Challenge. I guess that’s how Chicago politics works, you give me stuff, and when I get in a position to pay it back, I will.

Yes, I’m not surprised about FEMA, and it takes someone like your brother to get things done. Bureaucracy is the enemy, and it exists in the private sector as well. They’re having a hard time with the Red Cross too. The Salvation Army is much to be preferred. As far back as WWII the Red Cross was charging for the snacks they were giving out to soldiers, while the Salvation Army just gave things out. All the generators and drinks and snacks that Bloomberg had for the marathon are still sitting in the tents unused, while so needed on Staten Island according to reports. Nobody to officially release them.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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