Much like everyone in the millennial generation will forever remember where they were on the morning of September 11, 2001, many of us will also recall where we were in August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck a merciless blow to the Gulf Coast, especially New Orleans. Now, seven years later Hurricane Isaac threatens the same region by following the same path on the same day.
The Republican Convention is underway in Tampa, Florida, and the GOP is set to show that their nominee is a personable, down-to-earth guy. But, Hurricane Isaac promises to throw more than a logistical wrench in their plans. CNN has already sent Anderson Cooper and Soledad O’Brien to New Orleans to cover the storm instead of the GOP Convention, other major news outlets are sure to follow their lead.
This means that the producers at CNN and other cable news television stations are planning to cover the GOP Convention and Hurricane Isaac simultaneously. Rather the coverage is done using split screens with the Hurricane unfolding on one side, while Republicans chant and cheer on the other screen, or the news network decides to cover the GOP Convention full screen, while giving constant Hurricane updates on the marquee below, this will be a bad mix for the Romney campaign.
The American people have not forgotten the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, nor the horribly botched recovery mission led by President Bush’s Republican administration. The last image Republicans need during what should be their most celebrated moment is a constant reminder one of their worst moments of leadership. Even more, President Obama is going to capitalize on this catastrophe by travelling to the Gulf Coast just after the storm and demonstrating his leadership as compassionate leader in chief. Obama will be delivering a message from New Orleans or nearby on rebuilding economically distraught areas, while Republicans bash Obama’s leadership and economic record. Republicans who will have to risk going soft on Obama due to the hurricane, or risk making their already impersonal nominee look even more out of touch.
It is too late for Republicans to cancel a convention that is underway. However, if Republicans, especially Romney, fail to demonstrate compassion and leadership during this catastrophe, they will be giving this election away. It would be wise of Romney to come to New Orleans after the hurricane and accept his nomination by telecast from the Gulf Coast.
For Democrats, Hurricane Isaac is an unfortunate gift. While the Gulf Coast region prepares for yet another blow, the Democrats have an opportunity to get right what Republicans got wrong during Hurricane Katrina. For Republicans, the ghost of Bush’s presidency rears its ugly head yet again. Both parties need to be careful and sensitive to the reality that people’s lives are being rattled by this storm. America is watching this storm unfold, and for the rest of the week Hurricane Isaac is the political star.
8/27/12 - 6:12PM EST: I am presently live in New Orleans, the weather today in the city has been mostly sunny and calm. Many of the New Orleans natives have evacuated ahead of the storm. The lines at local gas stations have been hectic. The mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, urged citizens to leave at noon today if they are going to leave to avoid blocking the highways tomorrow once the rain begins.
8/27/12 - 9:44PM EST: The New Orleans Airport is mostly shutdown, only a few remaining flights out of the city. New Orleans first responders appear to be running crisis management drills throughout the city. Fire, police, and ambulance sirens are blaring around the city, especially around and on I-10.
8/27/12 - 10:43PM EST: Obama spent the day in briefings with FEMA, the Department of Defense, and the Governors of the most likely to be affected states. The report can be found here.
8/27/12 - 11:17PM EST: Democratic National Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa suggests that Obama and Romney should appear together on the Gulf Coast after the hurricane hits and "put politics aside" for the sake of the storm. If Romney does not answer the call, he is an out of touch, highly partisan nominee, and if he does he concedes that Democrats have the right idea on this situation, something he's not likely willing to do, let the political games begin....
8/28/12 - 12:32PM EST: Tropical Storm Isaac officially becomes Hurricane Isaac.
8/28/12 - 2:14PM EST: President Obama is speaking at Iowa State, presently split screen with the storm footage in New Orleans on CNN, no coverage of the President on MSNBC only storm coverage, and only the Republican convention on Fox news, no Presidential or storm coverage.
8/28/12 - 9:21PM EST: 158,206 Lousiana homes are out of power as Rick Santorum addresses the GOP Convention (On the marquee on CNN, scrolling marquee on Fox News, no status updates on the hurricane on MSNBC). No mention of Hurricane Isaac yet in Santorum's speech.
8/28/12 - 10:12PM EST: Ann Romney requests a moment of silence for Hurricane Isaac at the beginning of her GOP Convention speech.