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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Convention crasher

The media and the blogosphere are alive this morning with the question of whether Hurricane Gustav's imminent arrival in New Orleans will help or hurt John McCain.

The soon-to-be Republican nominee has signaled he will curtail convention activities today and head off to New Orleans:
On Sunday afternoon, Mr. McCain declared on television that this was a time for members of his party to “take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats.”
A sound decision -- but hardly a shocking one. The abysmal performance of George Bush and the Republican Congress in responding to Katrina made this a simple and obvious choice. Heck, even George Bush figured it out this time.

But the political undertone remain. For example, continue a little farther into the New York Times story containing McCain's haberdashery thoughts and you find:
He made similar remarks at a campaign rally in St. Louis, even as some of his allies there, like former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Senator Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, publicly criticized Democrats and their nominee, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, at the same event.
Obama of course, is not sitting on his hands either:
"I think we can get tons of volunteers to travel down there, if it becomes necessary," Obama told reporters after attending St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Lima, Ohio. "I think we can activate an e-mail list of a couple of million people who want to give back," he said. Donations could include cash, goods, and individual labor, he said, once specific needs are assessed after consulting officials in storm-hit areas.
This of course is just as it should be -- and only highlights the ineptitude of the Katrina response at all levels of government. To be in a position of making a political statement about doing the right thing is an incredibly low bar.

McCain has an opportunity to show himself to be what George Bush is not when it comes to hurricane response. But Bush retains the levers of government and McCain risks overstepping the bounds if he is perceived to be leading the effort.

But no matter how well he responds -- by doing the decent and human thing -- he cannot erase his decision to walk in lockstep with Bush on W's biggest disaster -- Iraq.

And by the way, what exactly does McCain mean by "Country First" as the convention theme? That has the makings of a launch of a major fear and smear effort.

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