I can't speak for everyone in the hurricane zones, obviously, but I suspect that most people on the Gulf Coast this week are paying a lot more attention to Hurricane Gustav than to the Republican National Convention, which is set to kick off next Tuesday. I've already gotten emails from several friends who are caught in the "zone of uncertainty," and even though Cuba took a chunk out of Gustav's ass yesterday, they're still either boarding up or evacuating. Politics--even of the presidential variety--isn't high on their list of priorities.
But that's not stopping John McCain and Sarah Palin from showing that they care.
Now, to be fair, Mississippi is on the outer edge of the current projected landfall, so the local officials that the McCain/Palin campaign will be interfering with probably aren't in full-on hectic mode. They're prepping for what will be a bad, but not a catastrophic storm. But make no mistake--the campaign will be in the way.
Aides said McCain and his wife Cindy planned to join Palin in traveling to Jackson, Miss., Sunday at the invitation of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour because of concerns about people threatened by the storm. Gustav was heading into the Gulf of Mexico and menacing the same area ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The storm could hit the U.S. as early as Monday afternoon.
The McCains and Palin will receive a briefing at the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency — a permanent operations center monitoring hurricane response.
Contrast that with the response from the Obama campaign:
Asked whether he has plans to visit the Gulf Coast region, Obama said he was considering whether he should. Obama said such a visit with the accompanying media "can be a distraction in these kinds of situations. So we want to make sure that we're monitoring the situation and that we're being useful."I have no doubt that once the storm is past, the Obama campaign will make some sort of appearance in the area--he'll have to, because if he doesn't, even if his reason is to stay out of the way and not use resources that both locals and relief workers need, the press will cast him as cold and uncaring. But given the history of his campaign, the way Obama not only filled sandbags in Illinois back in June, but also mobilized local volunteers to help out with the effort, I expect it will be done in such a way so as to minimize any negative impact on those most harmed by the storm.
I'll be keeping a close eye on Gustav, seeing as it's heading straight for my former home, and the homes of many close friends of mine, but I'll also be keeping an eye on Hanna, since it seems no one knows what's going to happen with her. It's starting to feel a bit like 2005 around here.