NetWar: Bush, Kerry and the Hurricane [EN]

Contents Letter From Paris

Contents Letter From Paris

Sunday, August 15, 2004


Bush, Kerry and the Hurricane [EN]

O.K, Florida's 27 electoral votes are worth (literally) millions for both candidates to the White House. And then, at least for Mr. Bush, they justify taking a little risk that might well get him quite a few votes by looking brave and, why, yes, presidential.

So, the most bashed president in decades flew aboard of the Marine One chopper over smashed homes , uprooted trees and all the usual signs of Mother Nature’s wrath…

And he flew low and look presidential he did. Up to now, hurricane Charley has killed 13 people in Florida… $5 billion to $11 billion of damages, thousands homeless. So, he’d better look as convincingly presidential as possible over there.

I mean, look, Bush landed in Fort Myers and then flew (low) north over areas hardest hit by the hurricane, which packed winds of 145 mph (about 230 kmph). And, talking in terms dear to perception managers, when you hear that on the 6 pm news, it sounds and even looks risky, the journey of a heroic, concerned and assertive statesman.

Mr. Bush’s visit carries political significance… and balm over old sores.

1992 hurricane Andrew claimed 26 lives and caused nearly $20 billion in property losses. That was during Bush senior’s watch, mind you and to say that Floridians weren’t impressed with his response would be a nice understatement and a gruesome euphemism. The first President Bush was acrimoniously criticized for moving too unhurriedly to deliver food, water, and troops. Although he vastly outspent Bill Clinton in the following campaing, he was forced to a bitter fight to defend what once had been considered home turf, winning by a very small margin.

Not this time. Even before Hurricane Charley struck, the second President Bush, was flashing promises of federal money and swift relief action. And then he came to fly low into the Floridian hearts and (perhaps) minds.

Florida. 27 electoral votes and John Kerry leading by seven points according to the latest survey. Florida where the election 2000 was decided by, how many? 537 votes.

Meanwhile, John Kerry had to watch from the sidelines, probably ruminating about what one can do in a campaign when one is the President of the USA and about the millions of precious campaign dollars spent on looking presidential in front of Floridians before hurricane Charley came around.

What’ll happen to that 7% lead is everybody’s guess. The democratic hopeful couldn’t do much about it. He had to make do with a call to his supporters to volunteer in disaster relief efforts…

[Added on 08/15]

Kerry said he wouldn't visit the area immediately because he didn't want to divert police from helping in the recovery. Poor guy. There was that Spanish King, Phillip the 2nd, who, on news of his Armada more than half destroyed by bad seas on its way to invade England, sentenced: "I send my ships to battle men, not the elements". Well...

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