Americans do love a show:
US President Barack Obama warned the US east coast was in for a “long 72 hours” as he led his government’s response to Hurricane Irene at a disaster command center in Washington.
Obama on Saturday chaired a meeting at the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) set up at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) headquarters in Washington, which is marshaling federal and local hurricane-relief efforts.
“This is going to be a tough slog getting through this thing,” Obama said during a video teleconference including senior federal officials and local government agencies in the east coast path of Irene.
“It’s going to be a long 72 hours. Obviously a lot of families are going to be affected … the biggest concern I’m having right now has to do with flooding and power,” Obama said during the videoconference.
“(It) sounds like that’s going to be an enormous strain on a lot of states” that could last days, or even longer in some cases, he said.
Saturday evening Obama convened a conference call with members of his senior emergency response team including Vice President Joe Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, among others.
This is an example of the kind of thing that drives me crazy about US politics. We have a large bureaucracy with experts designed to handle these things- why do Americans demand a show of the President hunkered down in a bunker “taking charge?” The problem with the Bush response to national disasters and Katrina was not insufficient photo ops in a bunker, it was that they had completely gutted FEMA, screwed up the entire chain of command with confusion related to what is and what is not the purview of Homeland Security, and on top of it all, put an incompetent nitwit lawyer most noted for his association with Arabian horses in charge of the disaster response.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attacking Obama- I know why he is there, mainly because our idiot press would run with Republican narratives of Obama being detached or on vacation, etc. But he really shouldn’t need to be. All his work with natural disaster response should have been done months ago, when FEMA was properly staffed, funded, and trained. In a functional world, his real job right now should be to step back and let the experts handle this.
But you and I know the rules. He can’t. We need to see big daddy there “IN CHARGE” or we’ll be subjected to another round of Mark Knoller tweets discussing how many times Obama has golfed.