Dayton, Ohio is a microcosm of America. Its late school superintendent was a close family friend and the King family home was a stopping-off point on many cross country journeys for our family. It is a city filled with hard working, blue collar people of all ethnicities who have no patience for purveyors of bullshit. And yesterday, Mitt Romney and his crew dumped a hugely inappropriate steaming pile of it in the heart of that city.
Those of us who remember the final season of the acclaimed Presidential television drama ‘The West Wing’ saw mature fictional campaign operatives take the dignified high road and do no campaigning for several days during a plot line nuclear crisis near the end of that election. There was no such dignity from Team Romney. Hurricane Sandy caused Team Romney to cool their heels Monday and do no campaigning. Millions suffering and billions of dollars in damage meant nothing to the Republican Party.
1. Romney said Chrysler was moving Jeep jobs to China…
(LIE! Chrysler and GM were both forced to pushback as 3rd-parties directly affected AND OFFENDED),
2. A key surrogate said “if elected Romney will not appoint judges to repeal Roe vs Wade’ the case allowing abortion…
(LIE! – ARCH conservative Robert Bork, himself turned away by the Senate for the Court, heads the judicial search team) and
3. President Obama is un-Christian…
(LIE! And former Arkansas Governor Huckabee said his re-election will open the fires of hell to those who vote for him).
But as bad as this all was, Team Romney staged a bogus ‘Storm Relief’ event for Hurricane Sandy victims collecting clothing and canned goods for victims. The Red Cross specifically does not accept in-kind donations because cleaning them and packaging for redistribution takes away vital resources. They ask for blood and cash contributions so they can speed the relief needed to those most in need.
As tone deaf as this was, they held this event not In New Jersey, New York or Connecticut, where storm damage was most severe, rather in a unaffected swing state Ohio, in the same venue as their original campaign event was scheduled. His charitable storm disaster still had the name ‘Victory Rally’ on all printed materials and came complete with NASCAR drivers and country music legends as his convention bio-film kicked it all off.
And that was just the beginning. So craven was their need for validation, the campaign was worried people might not show up for their event with canned goods and supplies. So staffers went to a local WalMart and spent $5,000 on canned goods. As Buzzfeed reported, the audience at the rally were given a chance to grab something from the campaign supply table as ‘their’ donation for the subsequent photo-op with the candidate ‘gratefully’ receiving it across the room.
It was crass, craven and got little attention because the President and Governor Christie were touring storm-ravaged New Jersey in what Jon Stewart reported on his programme as “A Daily Show Tribute to Institutional Competence.” FEMA was prepositioned, phones were answered and red tape shredded getting aid to those most in need while Mitt Romney was forced to dig into his deep pockets to masquerade a campaign event while people were struggling.
And, as if on cue, the man who last had to deal with a major catastrophe, Michael Brown, George W. Bush’s former head of FEMA during Hurricane Katrina actually asked why the Obama Administration “responded so quickly” to this disaster. You remember him standing next Bush as W proclaimed “heckuva job, Brownie,” while people were still dying in New Orleans’ 9th Ward.
The Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey at 9:35 pm asked for National Guard Assistance on a nationally televised programme. At 11:10 pm the first convoy of trucks rolled into that city and the she Tweeted “The National Guard has Arrived!” The Mayor of Newark, New Jersey was also using social media and when alerted by residents of homeless people trapped under an overpass, got them to safety.
So yes, speed is needed in situations like this and there clearly is a right and wrong way to apply it. There were two split screen images on the telly. The President taking charge and making sure help was on the way and Mitt Romney handling goods he purchased for a photo op, it became very clear which was which.
Romney’s sleight of hand may have worked to fool people in the 1950s. Now with cellphone cameras, social media and citizen journalists everywhere in 2012, there is no way to keep a lid on a story like this.
Then again, Mitt wants to try and take the country back to the 1950’s so… “please, proceed Governor.”