September 8, 2004

I don't write this blog for my own amusement, people! Oh, wait, yes I do.

Bush's visit to Florida today gives me an excuse to call your attention to something I posted after Hurricane Charley, when a Wall St. Journal writer argued that John Kerry should have also toured the damage. I put some actual research into that fisking -- which showed that a supposed analysis of campaign tactics was merely a logic-free attack on Kerry -- but it took too long to get to the best stuff, and I'm pretty sure almost no one ended up wading all the way through it.

So here's the highlight. Whether you read the rest or not is up to you.

By contrast with Mr. Kerry as well as the elder Mr. Bush, Gov. Clinton was made [sic] a show of concern for those affected when he toured the destruction.

When he toured the destruction a full eight days later that is. Admittedly our news cycle is faster these days, but given Miniter's point about how well Clinton handled Andrew, perhaps he should mention that at this amount of time after Andrew hit, Clinton had done no more than Kerry had. In fact, his first reaction two days after the storm hit was to call for an inquiry into the government's poor handling of the disaster -- for which the Bush campaign accused him of "trying to exploit what is a terrible situation for political gain."

Of course it's unlikely Miniter knows this because the ABC News article that is clearly his source erroneously says Clinton, "carefully avoided jabbing at his opponent over the halting response." Print the legend, as the saying goes.

Mr. Clinton didn't carry Florida, but he won the election.

Translation: the net effect of visiting or not visiting a disaster site is probably completely uknowable. Sorry to have kept you reading this long before I mentioned it.

"Certainly Bill Clinton set the pattern," Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution told a reporter recently. "You want to be there. You want to be involved. You want to be helpful. You want to feel their pain."

Think-tank people always sound so confident in their analysis don't they. A certain Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution sure did back in 1992 when he said pretty much the opposite to a New York Times reporter for a story headlined "Returning to Devastated Area, Bush Uses Powers of Office to Help Others, and Himself" -- about how smartly George HW Bush was using the disaster: "When President Bush is suddenly on the front page -- when he's the lead story, on the evening news, and all eyes turn to whatever he's doing -- it stops Bill Clinton in his tracks.... Anybody who's been in a disaster knows the state and Federal governments can't come fast enough, so of course they're mad. But the rest of us, not in that disaster, are seeing the President take action, seeing him flying to Florida, calling out the troops from Fort Bragg and so on."

Posted by Daniel Radosh

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