On Saturday, Obama chaired a meeting at the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA’s Washington headquarters, and “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.” He also “heard updates on Saturday from governors and emergency management officials in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.”
Right-wing pundits lashed out at Obama, bizarrely claiming that the President of the United States is engaged in a political campaign when he commands the executive branch’s response to Hurricane Irene:
“How to Politicize a Hurricane,” Koch Industries lawyer John Hinderaker cried, saying Obama “posed for a photo-op today, pretending to have something to do with the potentially-severe weather event.”
Scared Monkeys: “The President left the friendly confines of “Life styles of the Rich & Famous to try and act presidential. However, it seems like more of a shameless photo-op.”
“Fearless Leader “Takes Charge” At Hurricane Command Center…” Weasel Zippers writes. “More like a pathetic photo-op.”
Six years after the Bush administration’s criminal failure to protect the citizens of the Gulf Coast from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, American conservatives are still reeling. One of the prime tenets of the American right — that everyday Americans don’t ever need a strong federal government — was belied by the tragedy of Katrina. Bush put FEMA under the control of an Arabian horse commissioner, Michael “Heckuva Job” Brown, eviscerating the crucial agency and demoralizing its proud public servants. Instead of responding to the warnings of National Weather Service officials or to reports of levee failures and mass suffering, Bush spent five days on photo ops like cutting a birthday cake with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and playing a guitar with country singer Mark Wills, and going to political events to promote Medicare Part D.
Before this year’s billion-dollar climate disasters struck across the nation, Obama rebuilt the tattered Federal Emergency Management Agency into a shining example of how our government serves the Constitutional mandate to protect the public welfare in times of need. Not every president plays guitar and eats cake when the safety of Americans is threatened.