Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Hurricane Lurch

“Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry does not plan to visit Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley because he's concerned his campaign entourage could distract from recovery efforts, he said Saturday.

“Kerry said he has instructed his Florida campaign staff to provide food, clothing, shelter or other assistance to people whose lives have been disrupted by the hurricane.

"’For the moment, our focus is on all of the police and response personnel necessary not being diverted from a visitor and really focusing on the recovery itself,’ Kerry said.”

I saw this blurb in the Seattle Times yesterday and was going to make a snide comment or two based upon the ludicrous headline (“Kerry campaign helping with Fla. recovery”) that made it sound like Lurch’s Florida volunteers were on a par with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but upon reflection really couldn’t find anything to object to. Indeed, this was such an un-Clintonian decision (as Rush Limbaugh put it, “Clinton would have been out there on the beach acting like Moses trying to stop the hurricane from coming ashore…”).on Kerry’s part that I had to admit that it was, for a Democrat presidential challenger, remarkably level-headed and, dare I say, selfless.

But as usual, Kerry couldn’t leave well enough alone. He just had to criticize Dubya for going to Florida to get a firsthand look at the devastation and get relief efforts underway, claiming that he went too soon and getting in the way of recovery efforts. Never mind that he’s the President of the United States and not only would it look awfully strange if he didn’t go, but it was his father’s appearance of indifference in the wake of Hurricane Andrew that contributed to his “out of touch” image. One might have asked the Boston Balker just how long Bush was supposed to wait; one might also suspect that the answer would have been predicated on what length of time would minimize the potential political benefits to the President in what is, after all, a critical battleground state.

Basically, it’s the same criticism Dems have used against any use of 9/11 imagery on the part of the Bush campaign. An admonishment the latter had better damn well ignore at the upcoming GOP convention.

Mr. Bush summed it up best: “Yeah, if I didn't come, they would've said we should have been here more rapidly."

Which is why what “they” say matters less than the points awarded on Who’s Line is it Anyway?

UPDATE: the Wall Street Journal’s Brendan Miniter thinks that Kerry blew it by not going to Florida to compete with the President for face time. Says that it made the senator look “out of touch” with Americans “in time of crisis.”

Maybe. To me it’s a reminder that the real reason Kerry didn’t go is because he didn’t want to interrupt his vacation. He’s still got that windsurfing to get in, you know.