August 29, 2011 3 Comments
Hurricane Irene has come and gone, leaving a trail of hype and minor flooding. A hurricane is headed toward New York City and you would think the whole world was about to come to an end if you were to listen to the media and local governments. The hurricane amounted to little more than a large rainstorm, it resulted in little more than local flooding and a few uprooted trees. The tornado’s that destroyed Joplin, MO earlier this year caused more damage and death than Hurricane Irene. But don’t expect the media or local pols to put any of into perspective.
The highlight of the weekend was watching President Obama’s made for tv command and control video. The President pushed aside FEMA leaders to take control of the situation at the Hurricane command center. This isn’t the first time the President has released live, or taped minute by minute footage of him in action. You’ll recall that the administration released a video of Obama and his security team during the bin Laden killing. Apparently the administration feels the need to show us that Obama can in fact manage a crisis. Unfortunately Hurricane Irene wasn’t exactly a crisis.
In fact, not only was Irene not a crisis but the live footage the administration released made Obama look weak. The President is an executive, he’s supposed to hire people who can manage crisis for him. In the case of a hurricane, the President hires someone to head FEMA. The FEMA head then gives updates to the President and takes direction from him. With Obama pushing FEMA aside to lead the operation himself, if only for the cameras, the President appears as though he doesn’t really trust FEMA to do its job. Even if that’s a wise decision, at the end of the day it’s the President who hires the head of FEMA. So is Obama really saying that he doesn’t trust the man he hired? If so, why isn’t the FEMA chief fired?
In the face of sinking poll numbers, the President is desperate to show he has some leadership capabilities. But he isn’t the only one, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Christie weren’t going to be overshadowed by Obama. Bloomberg shut New York down in a desperate attempt to make up for last winter’s snowstorms that the city fouled up. The Subway, for no particular reason, was still shut down earlier today. Meanwhile in New Jersey Gov. Christie told everyone to “get the Hell off the beach.” The Governor proceeded to warn that if you were on the beach you were going to die.
The Governor’s bombast is enjoyable most of the time but in the case of Irene, it was just a little over the top. Irene was a hurricane but it was the weakest possible hurricane. Most people heeded the Governor’s warning and got off the beach, but the media members who didn’t (as well as all others) didn’t die. In fact, but for flooding the beach may have been the safest place to be. The folks who got killed weren’t killed at the beach, they were killed inland by falling tree limbs.
There is no doubt that a lot of the overreaction to Irene is based on the inaction by local officials during Katrina. The Democrat Governor of Louisiana and the Democrat Mayor of New Orleans failed to evacuate the city in time and as such thousands were stranded. Obviously no elected official on the east coast wants to be responsible for something similar. But the east coast is not New Orleans. Millions don’t live below sea level and they aren’t protected by weak levies. It would be nice if elected officials and the media had put Irene into perspective. But when you’ve got the President strutting before the cameras “leading” the crisis, it’s difficult to imagine Mayor Bloomberg telling New Yorkers to calm down and get over themselves.