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.


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