Dumpster diving in Manhattan, and other signs of Obama’s awesome hurricane leadership
“Obama Left Them Behind: Hungry Dumpster Diving In NYC,” shouts the headline at the Drudge Report, beneath a picture of Obama smiling and waving through one of his billion or so post-Sandy photo ops. The video linked by Drudge is one of the grimmer scenes from the desperate quarters of the city:
The rest of Drudge’s top headlines detail gas shortages, gas thievery, violent altercations which have occasionally involved guns, power outages, looting (with the looters occasionally dressing like power company employees to get into houses), desperate pleas for help for New Yorkers, and a local official (Staten Island borough president James Molinaro) calling the Red Cross a “disgrace.”
The story about Molinaro calling out the Red Cross, originating from Politicker, contains quite a bit of general anger among Staten Island authorities. Molinaro is the only one who really hammers the Red Cross, but he doesn’t mince words:
“Because the devastation in Staten Island, the lack of a response,” Mr. Molinaro said to explain his comment to NBC after the press conference. “You know, I went to a shelter Monday night after the storm. People were coming in with no socks, with no shoes. They were in desperate need. Their housing was destroyed. They were crying. Where was the Red Cross? Isn’t that their function? They collect millions of dollars. Whenever there’s a drive in Staten Island, we give openly and honestly. Where are they? Where are they? I was at the South Shore yesterday, people were buried in their homes. There the dogs are trying to find bodies. The people there, the neighbors who had no electricity, were making soup. Making soup. It’s very emotional because the lack of a response. The lack of a response. They’re supposed to be here….They should be on the front lines fighting, and helping the people.”
But others, like Congressman Michael Grimm (whose name is a remarkable coincidence, given the situation) feel broadly neglected by larger authorities, and criticized the city government for running its fabled marathon when it should be focused entirely upon disaster relief:
“I think this is an example of what infuriates people here on Staten Island,” he said. “Like Senator Lanza just said, we have people, people still in water. Families displaced, families wondering where their grandparents are. Are they at a shelter? Are they at a hospital? Or are they gone? That’s what we should be focusing on. I think it would be very misguided to have this marathon. I think that the people of Staten Island will see this, unfortunately…as another shot against them, that the City Hall is more worried about getting everything running again for Manhattan and making everything look like it’s back to normal. We’re not back to normal and we’re not going to be back to normal for a long time.”
To be sure, much of this is not directly related to the office of the Presidency, but Obama’s media cheerleaders are trying to push him over the electoral finish line by fawning over his amazing post-hurricane leadership, and in reality there’s not much evidence that he’s done anything beyond perform the standard duties of his office, with some question about exactly how well he’s done even that. It can fairly be said that most of the direct response to such a disaster occurs at the state and local level, rather than being the direct responsibility of the President and his federal government… but the liberal media has been excoriating Mitt Romney for saying exactly that during the presidential debates. Instead, they want all good things credited to Obama, while nothing negative about the post-Sandy situation is to be considered his responsibility. General praise for this President is warmly accepted; all specific complaints should be directed elsewhere.
In another story at Breitbart.com linked by Drudge, Joel Pollak notes that Obama made a lot of loud promises about how he’d be cutting all the red tape that he otherwise thinks should cocoon every aspect of American life in plastic spiderwebs… but relief crews from Alabama were turned away from New Jersey because they use non-union labor. That seems like the kind of thing President Awesome and his new bestest pal, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, could have dealt with.
The point here is not that Obama’s performance during the storm has been an incredible disaster; rather, it has been fairly standard, but ridiculously over-hyped in an effort to make him look better before the election. The actual situation on the ground seems less important to the media than how wonderful Obama looks during his Holding a Phone and Looking Concerned photo opportunities. There isn’t much hard evidence that any of Obama’s alleged leadership skills have made a huge difference, or that President Romney would not have performed at least equally well.
And of course, since Mitt Romney is not currently in office, it’s absurdly unfair to imply some comparison between what the two candidates have been doing in the aftermath of the storm. The media response to Romney’s noble effort to use his campaign resources for storm relief have been met with media reactions ranging from indifference to ridicule. Do you suppose those dumpster-divers in Manhattan would appreciate some of the canned goods the Washington Post actually insulted Romney for collecting, comparing Romney to Marie Antoinette sighing “Let them eat cake?” (Amusingly, the dingbat who wrote the Post column is apparently under the impression that electricity is needed to cook rice, which would come as a surprise to the countless consumers of rice who lived prior to the 20th Century.)
Did you know that Mitt Romney personally donated to the Red Cross to help with Hurricane Sandy relief, and has been strongly encouraging his supporters to do likewise? Did you know the organization responded by saying “The American Red Cross appreciates the support from the Romney campaign and is working with the campaign to process this donation of supplies?” Why should photos of Obama wearing a bomber jacket and waving at crowds be counted a thousand times more important than that?
If he were an incumbent Republican, layouts like Drudge’s Friday morning front page would be standard fare throughout the mainstream press, as reporters contrasted perceived shortcomings in disaster response with the President’s comically obvious attempts to get political mileage out of “looking presidential” – which, as radio host Rush Limbaugh has noted, in Obama’s case merely means “actually doing his job for a change.”
And the media would absolutely crucify any Republican surrogate who tried to politicize the hurricane as shamelessly as former President Bill Clinton, who told an audience in Connecticut on the eve of the hurricane’s arrival, “We’re coming down to the 11th hour. We’re facing a violent storm. It’s nothing compared to the storm we’ll face if you don’t make the right decision in this election.” If that had been, say, former President Bush stumping for incumbent President John McCain, every news network would be lit up with split-screen photos contrasting his remarks with video of blacked-out neighborhoods and hungry people poking through dumpsters. And you may rest assured that the press would not be trying to broom a bloody outrage like Benghazi aside to praise a Republican president’s “hurricane leadership,” or failing to note that he seems very eager to circulate photos of himself in the White House Situation Room after natural disasters, but not when Americans are dying in foreign lands.