Both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney canceled scheduled appearances at the convention, determined to avoid appearing neglectful of the storm-torn region.
However, first lady Laura Bush did address the convention alongside Cindy McCain, the wife of John McCain. Both urged delegates to open their wallets to residents hit hard by the storm.
“I would ask that each one of us commit to join together to aid those in need as quickly as possible,” McCain told the roughly 4,000 delegates assembled in the center. “As John has been saying for the last several days, this is a time when we take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats.”
Quite right. In fact this is a time when your Republican hat would make it that much easier for the villagers to find you with their pitchforks and torches. Rome has been burning for at least six years now (that's an *ahem* conservative estimate) and now might not be the best time for a fiddlefest in the Twin Cities.
Brad Reed takes a good look at how the current hurricane and/or possible storm might be used, and he concludes it well.
Which brings us back to Hurricane Gustav. While it's unlikely that the GOP will totally undo the damage that the Bush years have wrought to its brand, the Republicans will likely attempt to show the public that during an election year they can at least try to govern in a manner that isn't wholly reminiscent of the Keystone Cops. Expect to see Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal giving us regular updates via satellite feed proclaiming that unlike in years past, federal relief workers are doing a heck of a job. Texas Governor Rick Perry will offer us heartfelt testimony from hurricane refugees grateful for the help they've been receiving. And finally, we'll probably watch Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour tell us that the government's excellent response to the hurricane shows that Barack Obama is dangerously unqualified to be president.
While you'd be right to call this cynical pandering, there are a couple of upsides to it. After all, assuming that the Republicans don't simply funnel all the money to Blackwater, it will be good to mobilize people to give money for hurricane relief. And let's face it, it is nice to now have two major political parties at least paying lip service to the radical idea that the government shouldn't simply sit by while its citizens drown.
Of course, it's nice that everyone will care a lot and say so. But it doesn't change the fact that years of not so benign neglect have made the situation in the Delta more precarious than it needs to be.