Of all the nakedly transparent political manuevers...I'm pretty cynical and this shocked even me. Dana Bash reports to Wolf Blitzer that McCain, clearly cognizant of the bad press George Bush got of celebrating McCain's birthday rather than keep an eye out for the citizens of the Gulf Coast, is considering a few different options for the Republican National Convention, scheduled to start Monday just as Hurricane Gustav makes landfall. One option, delaying the convention, has been set aside. Instead, McCain, along with wife Cindy and running mate Sarah Palin, will fly down to the Gulf Coast
The Arizona senator and Alaska governor will fly to Mississippi on Sunday to view preparations for the hurricane, adding a last-minute trip in an effort to contrast their would-be administration with President George W. Bush's slow response to Hurricane Katrina three years ago.
This is a little like the "McCain in the Baghdad Marketplace" moment. How much personnel will get pulled off from desperately needed duties in order for McCain to get his photo-op? Can you imagine the cries of "presumptuousness" and worse if Barack Obama had done so? But it gets worse, much worse. Now there's talk of turning the Republican National Convention -- peopled by the same types who thought that those Ninth Ward citizens should have drowned rather than look to the government to help evacuate them during Katrina, mind you -- into a telethon of sorts for Gulf Coast relief.
McCain said he had been in touch with the Governors from Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Florida and continued on to say, "I've been talking to all of them, but you know it just wouldn't be appropriate to have a festive occasion while a near tragedy or a terrible challenge is presented in the form of a natural disaster, so we're monitoring it from day to day and I'm saying a few prayers too."
The Republican Convention planners are preparing to alter the scheduled events and may simply stick to the minimal ceremony required by law to officially nominate John McCain as the Republican's Presidential candidate and Sarah Palin as the vice presidential candidate for the GOP.
One contingency plan in the event of a worse case scenario where Gustav reaps massive destruction along the U.S. Gulf Coast is to turn a portion of the convention into a "giant hurricane relief telethon", where attending Republicans would be transformed into "Red Cross-type volunteers" as the New York Post phrases it in their report.
Those Republicans would help collect donations, not for the Republican Party or John McCain but instead for storm victims as well as collecting food and goods to help them as well.
McCain - whose campaign motto is "Country First" - said helping people during an emergency will take precedence over accepting his GOP nomination for president.
Right...he's only thinking about the people. Moira at DemocracyArsenal:
It's a complete disregard for the mission and the government professionals at all levels attempting to keep people safe.
John McCain's mere suggestion that he should go there shows his horrific and dangerous judgment. If it actually happens, which hopefully it does not, then he will actually be doing harm. Because he is a presidential candidate, air traffic stops when he lands, roads are closed, and press follow him. Secret service and law enforcement personnel have to make sure everything is secure. That means all of these things STOP WORKING to make the area safer for the people getting out and protecting their homes. The only thing working in the favor of emergency management professionals are the noticeably small crowds at McCain events...so perhaps people will not be motivated to stay around.
These are the very reasons Obama and Biden dismissed the suggestion of travel immediately when asked. He's talked to Jindal-a man on McCain's short list for veep-and has expressed help. Trips of politicians often happen after major storms, but when doing these, the main goal is to highlight the devastation in order to secure the resources needed to fix it. It appears these gentlemen get it, and McCain is out of touch in a truly dangerous way.
McCain's suggestion of a visit will waste precious hours in getting resources in at a time when hours and minutes make all the difference. It will impact news coverage which should otherwise be used to urge people to get out through the proper channels, not political parties.
Tristero has more...