Home / General / Sandy <i>Should</i> Be Politicized

Sandy Should Be Politicized


This couldn’t be more right:

What you are going to see over the next week is an overt effort by Democrats to politicize the issue of disaster response. They’re right to do it. Conservatives are already complaining about this, but the attempt to wall disaster response off from politics in the aftermath of a disaster is an attempt to insulate Republicans from the consequences of their policies.

Funding for FEMA is something the parties wrangle over, with Republicans pushing to limit the agency’s budget, and Democrats pushing back. FEMA has to fight for its share of a constricted pot of money for domestic non-entitlement spending, a pot of money that the Republicans propose to radically constrict. How radically? Romney’s budget promises require shrinking domestic non-entitlement spending as a share of the economy by about two-thirds.

The Republican proposal to eviscerate this wide array of public functions is one of the underdiscussed questions of the election. Republicans have defended it using a very clever trick. They don’t explain how they would allocate the massive cuts to all these programs. When President Obama explains what would happen if those cuts were allocated in an across-the-board fashion, Republicans scream bloody murder. And when any single one of those programs enters the political debate, they can deny plans to make any specific cuts: They won’t cut education, they won’t cut support for veterans, and so on.


The GOP is the party arguing for splurging on a long vacation at the beach rather than repairing the roof. Naturally, they want to have this argument only when it’s sunny and never when it’s raining. There’s no reason to accommodate them.

Policies have consequences, and the Republican program of indiscriminately slashing domestic spending to fund superfluous defense spending and upper-class tax cuts has serious consequences. It’s “political” to point this out, but not in any negative sense.

Relatedly, read Plumer on Sandy and climate change. And speaking of the consequences of elections, this is like Matt Millen offering advice on how to run your draft.

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  • Hogan

    Sandy should be politicized, and as as with so many things in the past, here comes Michael Brown to show us how to do it badly.

    • Walt

      Isn’t that possibly the most inept quote ever? It’s like finding out someone really said “Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

      • Phoenix_rising

        The worst part was, you know the RNC had a week to prep him for that sound bite. It’s not as if Anderson Cooper had to parachute himself and his crew onto an otherwise desert Pacific atoll to cathch up with Michael Brown to get this highly sought quote.

        That was in fact the best our second of 2 parties could produce, out of its collective wisdom, over 5 workdays.

        Head desk to infinity.

        • Malaclypse

          Seriously. All he had to do was say “I know how easy it is to have every decision second-guessed in a situation like this, and I don’t see what is gained by doing that at this time.”

          The only way Brown’s comment makes sense is if he really does think he did a heck of a job back then.

          • DrDick

            To be Republican today is to be delusional, so yeah.

          • BigHank53

            Brown probably does think he did a heck of a job. He looked okay on the tube and emitted the proper talking points. He’s a political tool, and actually running FEMA wasn’t anything he ever gave a shit about. He deserved a nice soft federal job as a reward for his fundraising. The government can’t do anything right anyway; hadn’t you heard?

            That’s what he is.

            So he’s naturally assuming that the Obama administration runs exactly the same way, and everything they do is either gloryhogging or backstabbing evasion. That’s the story of his life.

        • arguingwithsignposts

          It’s not as if Anderson Cooper had to parachute himself and his crew onto an otherwise desert Pacific atoll to cathch up with Michael Brown to get this highly sought quote.

          Because there is no god.

      • Warren Terra

        It’s more like hiring Booth as a theater critic.

        • rea

          Booth was a huge star at the time (although not as huge as his brother Edwin).

          • Kind of like the Stephen to Edwin’s Alec?

          • Warren Terra

            I’m aware of this, and knew it was a problem with my line. But I was defining Booth by his committing an atrocity in a theater, and couldn’t think of a better example to use at the moment. In retrospect, perhaps, I should have said something like putting Jack The Ripper in charge of safety on the streets.

        • herr doktor bimler

          Or putting Hannibal Lecter in charge of restaurant reviews.

          • Uncle Ebeneezer

            The band Great White as fire inspector?

            • RedSquareBear

              Too soon.

              • BigHank53

                I won’t make my Jeffery Dahmer as Boy Scout Troop Leader joke then.

                Wait, what?

              • John


  • dreddfull

    Too bad dems/msm dropped the ball on discussing climate change during any of the debates. Works for domestic & foreign policy.

  • parrot

    i agree, but a deft touch is oh-too important … the surrogates and the campaign need to bring their a-game … there’s a reason why death, injury, and property damage in foreign lands is reported as collateral damage or something about as clinical, but on the father/mother lands as, well, tragedy, victims, etc. or some words that allude to tragic circumstances with victims … repugs will twist the message as an attempt using victims as martrys/political soccer balls … expect the word ‘brazen’ to get kicked around … am i concern trolling … sweet buddha helpme and send me out on a ice floe now …

  • jon

    No More Katrinas. Obama’s been sending the right messages, and Romney has a tin ear. Christie’s gratitude might even sway some of the undecideds.

    • DrDick

      The Dems need to saturate the airwaves with ads contrasting Bush’s response to Katrina with Obama’s response to Sandy, as well as ads slamming Romney and Ryan for wanted to defund FEMA and other federal programs.

  • Cody

    Yea, but the Republicans have shown such constraint politicizing the Benghazi incident. They only called it “cowardice by Obama” hours after it happened, and now according to McCain it’s the “Biggest scandal in American history”

    • The House Troll at another site told me in all apparent seriousness that Benghazi was “one of the greatest failures of any President in US history.”

      • Malaclypse

        That’s just silly. Everybody knows that Clinton allowing 9-11 to occur on his watch was the worst failure ever.

        • 9/11 pales in comparison to Clinton’s other, more turgid crimes

          • rea

            Like Pearl Harbor

            • Balu

              And blow jobs.

        • Worse than Jimmy Carter causing the 2008 recession?

          • Offsides

            Yep. Also worse than Janet Reno’s performance at Ruby Ridge and Clinton causing the huge deficits in 2002-now.

            • Incontinentia Buttocks

              And let’s not forget Whitewater, Vince Foster, Travelgate…and taking all those “W”s off the White House keyboards during the 2000-1 transition!

            • OK, fine, but nowhere near as bad as Clinton getting us in to Somalia.

              • Offsides

                But the worst of all time was FDR causing the Great Depression with the New Deal.

        • BigHank53

          I’m just relieved there’s a crime bigger than Watergate, the Cherokee expulsion, bombing Cambodia, mining harbors in Nicaragua, and the Jay treaty.

      • He even seems to think it edges out the New Deal in its heinousness.

  • c u n d gulag

    Uhm, and the Republicans DIDN’T politicize 9/11?

    Jayzooh H. Keerist telling his disciples to not make a big deal over his crucification!

    Never mind Rudy, the whose feckin’ party was a noun, a verb, and 9/11, until ANOTHER disaster that they also mishandled, came along – Katrina!

    • Walt

      Let me be the first to use the acronym that explains all: IOKIYAR.

      • c u n d gulag

        Isn’t it always…

        • Njorl

          Not if it involves gay sex.

  • tonycpsu

    Any time the GOP has a political liability, they try to shut down debate by declaring it improper to be politicizing something that’s inherently political. “Support our troops, we’re a nation at war, therefore STFU about Iraq” was the canonical GWB-era example, but of course they trotted it out during

    Nowadays they say we shouldn’t politicize their attempts to kill Medicare, and the press buys into the “Mediscare” framing. And of course now that we’re beginning to see the differences between the two administrations’ approaches to disaster relief, the GOP again wants to shut down the debate.

    Have Democrats ever worked the refs like this?

    • tonycpsu

      should have read “during Katrina.”

      carry on.

    • snurp

      Hearing a “let’s not make this political” usually leads me to suspect that if I haven’t been considering a political angle, I should’ve.

      I remember about three years after Katrina I was talking about a rebuilding-related tragicomedy my aunt was having with a conservative girl I was rooming with – the first thing she did was veer off-topic and try to get my assurances that everyone knew not to blame the president. I had no such assurances to give her, as it happened.

  • tonycpsu

    I got yer politicization right here.

    Obummer’s Katrina!!!11!!one!eleventy!

    • commie atheist

      He may actually have gotten the subway one right.

  • Michael Brown? Didn’t he have that thing with the burlap sack and red-tipped staves done to him?

    • Cody

      Honestly, how was he not given the “Bush Treatment”?

      I fully expected to never hear or see from Michael Brown again after Katrina.

      The fact that the GOP didn’t maroon him on a desert island atoll is surprising, as I assume Bush is sitting on one right now.

  • DocAmazing

    The slogan that the Obama campaign might want to bring out:

    “If you built it yourself, rebuild it yourself.”

    • FlipYrWhig

      Well played, old chap.

    • I was just thinking about “We built this!” today.

      That was the theme of the entire Republican Convention, and it has sunk without a trace.

      • Uncle Ebeneezer

        Only cause they didn’t do it “on rock and roll.”

        • sharon

          Thanks, now I can’t get this out of my head.


  • This is not an climate change political moment. It is a “Gee, a large federal government can be very useful when the shit hits the fan” moment.

    It should be pounded like a nail into the foreheads of every Republican who dares to show his or her face.

    • Joey Giraud

      I wonder which weather disaster will break the wall of denial in America, and how soon.

      It will happen.

      • kerry

        If Katrina didn’t do it, I don’t know what will. It would probably require widespread death of rich people, which if course won’t happen, because (1) there just aren’t that many of them, and (2) rich people have the means to protect themselves to a certain degree.

      • Offsides

        I’ve wondered this too, but I suspect there never will be a disaster that sparks that realization. Although the earth is warming faster than predicted, with faster than predicted sea rise and ice melting, it is still incremental change. The record heat waves of 2003 in Europe and 2005 in the US are now the new normal to a lot of people, so the next set of crazy heat waves will be incrementally worse than the worst they remember. And so on.

        And if another dust bowl occurs Monsanto and ExxonMobile will fund a $20 billion propoganda campaign to blame the environmental movement – and 50% of the public will believe it.

        • BobS

          Boiling frogs.

        • JoshA

          Exactly. I foresee a future in which a group of refugees eek out a living in the Rocky Mountains while the rightwingers insist that this is all normal and in no way tied to climate change.

  • herr doktor bimler

    Hurricanes are like mass shootings. It is always too early to politicise them, except if liberals are planning to make political capital in which case it is OK to politicise them in pre-emptive retaliation.

    Also, the tragedy would have been avoided if every passer-by had also been carrying a hurricane.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      Also, the tragedy would have been avoided if every passer-by had also been carrying a hurricane.


      • rea

        When hurricanes aare outlawed, only outlaws will have hurricanes . . .

  • Joey Giraud

    Bit of a pity this didn’t happen in a red state area, if only to get Republican voters even more red-in-the-face.

    Imagine feeling even a little bit grateful for assistance from a Kenyan Muslim usurper.

    • They would only rationalize it as something they were owed and had worked for.

      And after the emergency, then they DID rebuild it themselves.

      • somethingblue

        I was on welfare. I was on food stamps. No one helped me …”

  • TT

    ….this is like Matt Millen offering advice on how to run your draft.

    Millen did manage to draft Calvin Johnson, which slightly mitigates his legendary terribleness.

    • tucker

      Yeah, but it took him three tries to get it right. (See Roy Williams and Charles Rogers)

      • Joseph Slater

        Damn straight. Long-time Lions fan here. Do you know how many really, really high draft picks the Lions had? Getting one star player out of all those was basically something any 10-year old fan could have done. While anyone can have one or two high picks go wrong, the string of disasters Millen left the Lions with couldn’t have been matched by a band of monkeys throwing feces at a list of draft-eligible players. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

      • BobS

        4 tries- you forgot Mike Williams.

    • Millen drafted Gosder Cherilus with a high first round pick.

      All I can figure is that somewhere in the NCAA, there was a blindingly fast wide receiver named Chosder Gerilus who had a history of ankle injuries, firearms violations, and baby mommas. It’s the only explanation that makes sense.

      • Offsides

        But perhaps his worst “accomplishment” was destroying the careers of the coaches he hired.

        I mean, Mariucci wasn’t a bad coach by any means. He coaxed some 49er teams to many more wins than they had a right to expect given their eroding talent. But no one would dream of hiring him today because of his record in Detroit.

        • Quarterbacks, too.

          • Offsides

            True. NFL history is littered with QBs who might have made a great mark with better coaches and teams. Not every 3rd round QB draft choice is lucky enough to have Bill Walsh as a coach just before his offensive philosophies took over the league, as Montana did.

          • witless chum

            I don’t know that Joey Harrington was going to succeed anywhere. He wasn’t helped by being stuck in Marriucci’s west coast system which highlighted his weird short-passing inaccuracy, but is a QB who constantly throws swing passes that his RB has to stop and turn around to catch really going to be successful in any system?

            Millen’s less-known QB Qomedy Qaper was his first annointed starter upon taking over the Lions in 2001. Ty Detmer was the answer and the question was who can throw six picks in the opener.

        • JoshA

          Crazy fact: in Mooch’s last season in SF, he made the playoffs, won a playoff game…and was fired.

          The 49ers had insane expectations in those days.

        • witless chum

          Not true. Marriucci could have gotten a BCS conference college job, at least, if he’d wanted on. He doesn’t seem to want one.

          I think the experience of working for Matt Millen has pretty made him say fuck that noise and just be a football commentator. You know, the job that’s so easy that Matt Millen is pretty good at it.

          Millen’s true genius was in coaching hires. Getting mad at Mooch for going 5-11 and replacing him with Rod Marrinelli? Genius!

  • Uncle Ebeneezer


    “We shouldn’t talk about these things while we’re in the middle of a disaster.”


    “We face so many other problems, this is hardly the time to talk about disasters.”

  • Bertie

    Obama, Axelrod, and company are smarter than all of you.

    They know that Obama gets a surefire, lead pipe lock, no-risk, all-reward win of this news cycle simply by being presidential.

    And what’s more, he gets to draw out this winning cycle by keeping the campaigning suspended and touring storms damaged sites and so forth. It is Romney who needs to get this back to normal campaigning ASAP, but he loses by going back to the normal mudslinging while Obama tours disaster areas.

    For Obama or any surrogate to risk all of that with climate change, infrastructure spending, FEMA, or whatever would be beyond stupid.

    • Sure, not politicizing the hurricane works for the Obama campaign. But getting Obama reelected isn’t sufficient to address the issues. We need there to be the political will behind doing something about climate change and maintaining an appropriate level of emergency management funding. Also, we seem to be at the point where we need to deal with higher storm surges than our infrastructure can handle, even if we do slow the rise of the oceans.

      • Leeds man

        We need there to be the political will behind doing something about climate change

        Not going to happen until it threatens the offshore accounts of the 0.1 percent.

        • LeeEsq

          Most of the rest of humanity doesn’t have the will to do anything about global warming either, including myself. People in developed countries don’t want their lifestyles disrupted by the necessary changes; smaller housing, less meat, and less other creature comforts. People in developing countries want to live like people in developed countries.

          • But how much of that is a genuine opposition to doing anything, and how much is a desire not to be the sucker who sacrifices while everyone else lives it up?

            Do we have an irresponsibility problem, or a collective action problem?

            • Leeds man

              Do we have an irresponsibility problem, or a collective action problem?

              Both. Anyone aspiring to office would be risking political suicide by advocating meaningful action.

          • djangermats

            No, the rest of humanity has no ability to do anything about climate change.

            • catclub

              Well, actually the MOTU idiots who collapsed the economy also helped us have the lowest CO2 emissions in years.

              Lemonade, people!

              • Cody

                Yes, the statistics on environmental impact during the Obama years are amazing.

                We’re leaving a much much smaller Carbon footprint during the Bush years.

                This is mostly due to the bad economy and fracking not having “measurable” pollution impact currently.

        • Ken

          If it weren’t for the people who live there, I would love to see a hurricane wipe out the Cayman Islands. It wouldn’t wipe out anyone’s bank accounts, of course, but that’s the point – it would make it obvious what a charade the whole setup is.

        • One group of the 1% that is affected by global warming: insurers, especially reinsurers. They frequently have to pay out for floods and related damage. They are also fairly politically powerful. Look for them to push the issue as the petrochemical (and especially coal) industries lose a little power.

    • For Obama or any surrogate to risk all of that with climate change, infrastructure spending, FEMA, or whatever would be beyond stupid.

      For an Obama surrogate, sure – but that’s the thing with liberals: we don’t all speak with one voice. There are plenty of liberal columnists and Congressmen, unaffiliated with the campaign, who could pick this up.

  • There are things we can do better together than we could possibly do separately. I don’t know if that’s a winning political message. It is, however, true.

    • Cody

      I can’t tell if this post is sarcastic or not.

      After all, Obama’s “we built it together” slogan was basically what you just said.

      Of course, Romney turned it into “you didn’t build that”.

  • mds

    “It is shameful that Democrats want to politicize this,” Mitt Romney declared from his Ohio campaign rally thinly disguised as a Red Cross food donation** event.

    **Yes, the Red Cross has already declared “Please don’t donate food,” but when have the protestations of a charity ever derailed a Romney/Ryan photo op?

  • cpinva

    there are 5 supreme court justices who can legitimately be accused of the responsibilty for the deaths of 1,000’s of americans, 5,000 in the US, and another several 1,000 in afghanistan and iraq. by illegaly appointing bush as president in 2000, they accept culpability for his subsequent actions/inactions, and all the death and destruction resulting from that.

    i think this is something that those 5 justices should have publicly thrown in their faces, at every opportunity, scalia especially, just because he’s such an arrogant, obnoxious blowhard. they should be asked how they plan on atoning for the deaths and destruction they helped cause. for the catholics among them, they should be asked if they’ve sought forgiveness in the the confessional, and whether or not they thought they could ever say enough Hail Mary’s, or Lord’s Prayer’s to cleanse that sin from their eternal souls?

  • parsec

    And Britt: you know the rules. No Al Gore global warming jokes in the summertime and no bad-mouthing federal employees while they’re saving lives.

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