Deja Vu: The Hurricane and the GOP

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  • Isaac is causing panic for those in its path and forcing politicians in the Republican Party to make quick decisions on delaying the start of its party convention. The momentum of the convention has been slowed because of the shift in the start of the event from Monday to Tuesday. Those behind the scenes are working to regain ground lost, pushing what was supposed to reignite enthusiasm within the GOP ranks in three days instead of four.

    At the RNC, they are literally reworking the script, trying to seamlessly reschedule all the strategic and meticulously planned speeches and events. Terry Edmonds Former speech writer for then President Bill Clinton, worked three Democratic Conventions. When conventions run the normal course, he says it is a "frantic time for speech writers" as everything is "scripted almost to the minute." He also says the speech writers are also responsible for the speeches given by others on the podium saying their addresses are "designed to be consistent with the candidate’s message." Edmonds, a veteran speech writer, believes these speeches will address the current weather event that forced a delay in the convention. Edmonds believes Governor Romney will probably incorporate some of the response to the hurricane, as Florida is a state with a Republican Governor, Marco Rubio. Mitt Romney is trailing four points behind President Obama here.  

    The 63-year-old Edmonds says, "I think by delaying the start of the convention, he [Mitt Romney] is conveying a message that some things are more important than politics and the safety of the people down there is more important."

    As Tropical Storm Isaac surges with a potential to strengthen into a hurricane, President Obama and FEMA are monitoring the storm and continue to get assessments from hurricane hunters from the Air Force flying into the storm accessing its magnitude.  Federal officials are expressing great concern over Isaac. They assert it is a slow moving, large system with potentials of creating a tremendous storm surge and heavy rainfall. They caution the result could lead to massive flooding.

    In Washington, federal officials say, “the storm is not a point, but an area.” There is concern for Gulf Coast states of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate says, “If you are asked to evacuate by local officials, the time to go is now, don’t wait!”  FEMA also advises people should have a plan in case of evacuation. If not go to Ready.gov for more information on evacuation plan options.

    FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has been one of several officials updating the president and he says, “People are too focused on where they think it [Isaac] will make landfall…an aspect that is concerning is storm surge and heavy rainfall.”  

    Looking back seven years ago, the NAACP and its then president, Bruce Gordon, were some of the first to point out what was happening on the ground in New Orleans after the levees broke following Hurricane Katrina. The NAACP was one of the groups leading the charge to get help to those affected by the flooding there. Hillary Shelton of the NAACP is on the ground in Tampa at the RNC convention working on behalf of those the Right's organization represents. Particularly, during the threat of Isaac, Shelton says, “In many ways it is very helpful that we see our friends on both sides of the aisle as we move towards the Republican National Convention.”  

    Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath is a prime example of the need for coordinated help from every sector and from all political parties. Shelton contends that is why the NAACP is at the RNC.

    “We are thoughtful about the many areas, of course even the role of government, as we think about protecting our communities.”

    Shelton, who runs the rights groups legislative arm out of Washington, DC., contends, “One of the hard lessons we learned during Hurricane Katrina is that often times the preconception on what you can do is based on the concept.”  He is speaking of the presumed “middle class” socioeconomic status of those left to evacuate after the levees broke. “Many of the poorer and marginal communities didn’t have even those basic resources and the planning was not set accordingly.”

    The remaining New Orleans residents left to evacuate were told to pack their overnight suitcase and throw it in the back of their car and drive north. Seven years later, New Orleans is still on the rebound with about 85 percent of their residents coming back home after being displaced from one of the worst natural disasters in this country.
     

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