Does Obama have a natural advantage because he’s president? The short answer: yes. The longer answer: not if he makes an unforced error. While George W. Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina ranks among the worst blunders in modern presidential history, it has also ensured that no president or candidate will under-react to the threat of a devastating natural disaster. As president, Obama’s best politics are to simply do his job well. On Sunday, he visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters for a briefing, which is pictured prominently on the White House website. The president, in suit and shirt with no tie, sits between FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Deputy Administrator Richard Serino.
Garance Franke-Ruta notes Romney’s primary debate comments on disaster response:
Mitt Romney said America shouldn’t be in the business of providing federal disaster relief and that it would be better for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s functions to be handled by individual states or even the private sector. Queried directly on the topic by CNN’s John King during the June 13, 2011 Republican presidential primary debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, Romney said the federal government “cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids.”
Josh Marshall parses these comments:
Many things that Romney said back during his severely conservative period I have little doubt are what he really believes. This one though is so nonsensical that I’d chalk it up more to his penchant for pandering and lack of character. But that’s a difficult excuse for Romney to use on his behalf and I suspect we’ll be hearing more about this pretty soon.
[W]hile the study focuses on the effects of foul weather on Election Day, it could be instructive as to voting patterns on November 6th, when millions of people could likely be dealing with power outages, storm damage and obstructed travel conditions. The gist of the findings from three major universities: “When compared to normal conditions, rain significantly reduces voter participation by a rate of just less than 1 percent per inch, while an inch of snowfall decreases turnout by almost .5 percent. Poor weather is also shown to benefit the Republican party’s vote share.”
One big reason:
“Individuals low in socioeconomic status simply find it more difficult to bear the costs of voting, which includes both decision costs and the direct costs of registering and going to the polls,” the researchers said.
Bomboy also notes that electronic voting machines are “another wild card” in states that are disproportionately reliant on them, such as Virginia and Pennsylvania.
(Photo: President Barack Obama talks to workers after a briefing on Hurricane Sandy at FEMA Headquarters on October 28, 2012 in Washington, D.C. By Dennis Brack-Pool/Getty Images)