How dare Hurricane Gustav threaten the Gulf Coast on a Sunday? Doesn't Mother Nature know that McCain likes to take weekends off? I'm hoping that it is truly the feedback he complains about in the early part of the video and not just petulance for being forced to make executive decisions on a Sunday that accounts for a somewhat disoriented McCain announcing that in sensitivity to the damage that Hurricane Gustav may wreak on the Gulf Coast, he's opted to cancel all but the "necessary" components of today's RNC schedule:
Ariz. Sen. John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, visited the Gulf briefly and instructed convention organizers to suspend all but essential business on the opening day of the convention and turn many of the gathering's planned festivities into fundraisers for potential victims of the storm.[..]
Adding to the sense of uncertainty, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney announced that they would skip the convention to monitor preparations for the storm, which is expected to make landfall late this morning.
Officials said that as part of the convention's opening night, Laura Bush and McCain's wife, Cindy, would speak from the podium and describe ways to help victims of Hurricane Gustav. The First Lady visited the convention hall Sunday evening to check out the podium. Cindy McCain and Palin arrived in the Twin Cities by private plane Sunday night.
It's heartwarming to see such concern for the hurricane victims, isn't it? Especially since John McCain did so little for Hurricane Katrina victims and actively fought against a commission to find out what went wrong. My buddy Bob Geiger--the Senate blogger--is back to his blogging duties and files this:
What does seem odd is that McCain thinks Gulf Coast residents will forget how he, George W. Bush and the then-Republican Congress turned their backs on them so many times in the months after Katrina thundered ashore in 2005.
Sure, McCain was big on rote sympathy right after the disaster, saying on September 1, 2005 "American citizens have proven time and again how generous and selfless a people we are, and now we have an opportunity to come to the aid of those in need." A week later he stridently said "Our work to help the victims of this national tragedy has just begun, and Congress must do all that is necessary to fund essential relief and recovery efforts and help those in need."
It must be nice to have staffers writing that stuff for you.
Too bad he spent the months to follow leading the Republican charge against every Senate bill that would have actually helped Katrina victims or mandated investigations on how the Bush administration could have blown disaster response so thoroughly.
Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden jumped immediately to the aid of hurricane victims in the week after the 2005 disaster, authoring S.Amdt. 1661 "...to provide emergency funding for victims of Hurricane Katrina."[..]
But with John McCain's help, the Republican-led Senate shot down the funding on a 41-56 vote with McCain voting against, while Biden and Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama voted for the funding.
When Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) proposed the creation of a Congressional Commission to "examine the Federal, State, and local response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.. and make immediate corrective measures to improve such responses in the future," John McCain was once again exactly where George W. Bush wanted him to be: On the "nay" side of a straight party-line vote (44-54) that killed that legislation.
So when McCain tells the people of the Gulf Coast now that we'll pray for them, is that the only assistance they can expect from him?
Transcripts below the fold
I want to say thank everybody [sic]. Thank you. I wish everybody's having a good time in the Twin Cities and thanks to the hospitality of our great Governor of Minnesota. As you probably know, I'm in St. Louis. Yesterday, we were in Pennsylvania and the day before, in Ohio. And I'd just like to say that the enthusiasm and the warmth of the reception for the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, has been incredible and magnificent. And I really am...I knew I made the right choice, but it's been confirmed by the support and outpouring of appreciation from all over America.
As you well know, I...we are facing a great national challenge and the possibility of a great national natural disaster. And I just received a briefing down in Jackson, Mississippi, along with Gov. Haley Barbour, there's a teleconference, with the other three governors, Gov. Perry of Texas, Gov. Jindal of Louisiana and Gov. Riley of Alabama. I'm happy to report to you that the coordination and the work that's being done at all levels appears to me to be excellent. There are still some challenges, such as further evacuations that need to take place. Search and rescue capabilities still aren't at the level that we'd like to see them. And communications still amongst first responders is not quite at the level that we would seek.
But I can also tell you that the level of cooperation between the federal government, the state governments, the local governments in Louisiana and in the other affected states is excellent. Is excellent. And I have every expectation that we will not see the stakes of Katrina repeated. In fact, I'm very optimistic that we will see a degree of cooperation and effort on behalf of any victims...of anyone whose lives are touched by this great natural disaster that maybe we continue to do, as Gov. Haley Barbour said the other day...he said today, ‘pray for the best and prepare for the worst.' And I think that's what we're doing as a nation.
And, as you know, the hurricane is supposed to hit sometime tomorrow, roughly noon, and the tropical storm stage is supposed to be reached sometime late tonight. And one of the things we know about hurricanes, is that many times they do the unpredictable. Three out of the last four hurricanes have veered to the east in the last several hours on their path. So we don't know, of course, exactly what's going to happen. But, as Gov. Haley Barbour said - the outstanding governor of the state of Mississippi-said, ‘we'll pray for the best and prepare for the worst.'
So, of course this is a time when we have to do away with our party politics and we have to act as Americans. We have to join, with 300 million other Americans, on behalf of our fellow citizens. It's a time for action. So we are going to suspend most of our activities tomorrow, except for those absolutely necessary. Rick Davis, our campaign manager, will be coming on right after me to tell you about the details of it. But I know you'll agree with me, it's time to open our hearts, our efforts, our wallets, our concern, our care for those American citizens now under the shadow and the probability of a natural disaster.
So I hope that all of us and I'm very...I know that all of us will not only keep in our thoughts and our prayers the people of the Gulf Coast, but we will act. We will act together. We will provide the necessary relief, the necessary comfort. We will open our arms, as Americans always have, in time of challenge, to those in our society who are...who are less fortunate because of any circumstance, but in this circumstance, because of this hurricane. So ahead of time, I want to thank all my fellow Republicans as we take off our Republican hats, and put on our American hats and we say, "America, we're with you. America, we're going to care for these people in their time of need and we're going to display it in every possible way, as Americans always have and Americans always will.
I thank you. I can hardly wait to get up there and I hope and pray that we'll be able to resume some of our normal operations as quickly as possible, but some of that, frankly, is in the hands of God.
So keep them in your prayers and also, when you get a chance to thank these wonderful thousands and thousands of volunteers, who have turned out in these efforts, not only now but will in the future. God bless them and thank God. It makes me proud to be an American.
Thank you. The time for action is now.