Hurricane Romney, “Go Home and Call 211” and the Politics of Everything

With Clint Eastwood’s to-hell-with-this-wooden-chair speech in the past, the brutally drawn-out Republican National Convention has come to an end, leaving the Romney campaign to finally focus on the last three months of the election season. And these upcoming few weeks are the most important: as the candidates mark out their final talking points, the notorious yet senselessly hopeless skeptics known as the ‘independent voters’ go through the ultimate process of elimination. Hooray for the two-party system!

Moving on from Tampa, Mitt has found himself in hurricane territory: after accepting an invite from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, the Republican hopeful traveled down to the devastated lands in Isaac’s path. These were the towns that unfortunately exist outside of the vast levee system that “protects” Louisiana’s shores after Katrina. And most of them were found underwater by authorities after the storm hit.
Once there, Romney spent close to an hour with Jindal shaking hands with first responders and National Guardsmen. The Governor pointed out to reporters that he extended the invite to Mr. Obama as well even though the President is coming on his own accord this Monday. And Jindal has a history of not accepting invites from the President, too: he was one of the few Republican governors that refused to accept stimulus funds a few years back. At the time, Louisiana had one of the worst unemployment numbers in the country
Mitt also met Jodie Chiarello, a 42-year-old woman who lost her house thanks to Isaac. Since the federal funds did not come to her area a few years back, her house was submerged under water and, now, she has nowhere to go. When Jodie asked Mitt what he could do about the situation, he had a brilliant plan to salvage what was left.
“He just told me to, uhm, there’s assistance out there,” she told reporters. “He said, ‘go home and call 211.'”
For those who do not know, 211 is a public service number one calls for basic human needs resources and other physical/mental resources in times of crisis. According to its website, you can also call it for unemployment benefits, daycare and donation centers. It’s like the 311 number we have here in New York – it’s a direct connection to your government, except they’ll probably put you on hold for fifteen minutes or so. Relax, the government will help you when it gets around to it.
Besides the fact that Jodie has no home to call 211 from, Romney’s suggestion relies upon an individual responsibility that lies as the cornerstone of his partner-in-crime’s budget. In Path to Prosperity, Paul Ryan offers an 80% cut in discretionary spending – the largest gutting of governmental public services in our lifetime – and FEMA finds itself stuck on the chopping block. Although exact numbers aren’t given to how much disaster funds would be cut, it’s safe to say that calling 211 might be the only option left in a nation starved for cash flow.
This was the point made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yesterday when he chastised Mitt and Paul for even thinking that they could show sympathy for the hurricane victims. A bit harsh? Yes. In a statement, he wrote,

“It is the height of hypocrisy for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to make a pretense of showing sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Isaac when their policies would leave those affected by this disaster stranded and on their own.”

Contrary to popular belief, everything is political. As cynical and heart-wrenching as it sounds,  a natural disaster like Hurricane Isaac is dealt with by human hands and, as Hunter S. Thompson once pointed out, “politics is the art of controlling your environment.” Therefore, Reid’s interjection of Ryan’s budget into the conversation is a common move by politicians (especially during election season) to further politicize an already political event. That was a tongue twister and a half.

However, the downside of an all-political reality is the ignorance that rides the coat tail of partisanship. If we’re talking disasters, we saw it happen back when Katrina hit New Orleans. While the country argued with itself over responsibility (or lack thereof) from FEMA, the Cajun city got privatized and assembled back together like a leaded toy from China.
And we are seeing the same thing happen here in this election now with Isaac. Sure, criticize Romney for telling Jodie to ‘go home and call 211’ but Reid is just as guilty of taking our eyes off the real victims here as well. The argument shifts away from the actual physical and emotional toll Isaac left behind on these people and we find itself mired in talks of the budget and Ayn-Rand-inspired personal responsibility.
In the end, humans are responsible for politics but they never want to be responsible for its side-effects. All this information can be repeated for you by calling 2-1-1.

Rick Santorum Bails On New York GOP’s (Pricey) Dinner

There’s bad news if you forked over $1,000 to New York’s Republican Party to attend its annual dinner: former presidential candidate Rick Santorum won’t be there.

GOP spokeswoman Becky Miller tells the Voice Santorum is out. Santorum, she says, didn’t give a specific reason, but we can only assume the former presidential candidate’s bailing on the pricey dinner has to do with his throwing in the towel in the presidential primary earlier this week.

Santorum and former U.S. House Speaker/now-faux presidential candidate Newt Gingrich were both scheduled to attend the dinner in what state GOP Chairman Ed Cox has pimped as one of the final campaign stops for presidential candidates before the New York primary on April 24. He’s made attempts to hype New York’s GOP as actually “playing a decisive role in this year’s Republican presidential nominating process.”

Even if Santorum was still in the race, New York probably would have had zero impact on the outcome of the primary (more on that here).

Gingrich, as far as we know, will still be attending the dinner — even though he’s all but bailed out of the presidential primary himself (he’s already referring to his campaign in the past tense and has said he expects Mitt Romney to be the GOP nominee. Yet, he refuses to back out of the race).

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will give the keynote speech at the dinner, which will be held on April 19, at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Manhattan. As we mentioned, it will cost you a thousand bucks to get in the door, and $5,000 to snap a photo with any of the GOP bigwigs.

Additionally, we owe our readers (and Miller’s boss) an explanation.

Yesterday, when we first wrote about whether Santorum would still attend the dinner now that his presidential campaign is kaput, we penned the following:

The New York state Republican Party is holding its annual dinner next week, at which now-former presidential
candidate Rick Santorum currently is scheduled to be a guest of honor. However, now that he’s bailed on his campaign, it’s unclear whether
Santorum will actually show up — and that’s because the New York GOP won’t tell us.

We’ve called, emailed, and even sent smoke signals (alright, maybe not smoke signals) to the state’s GOP asking whether Santorum would attend the dinner. Its response: crickets.

That’s all true (with the exception of the smoke signals) — we called twice and sent an email but got no response. However, Miller did actually send us an email response yesterday morning — before we wrote the article. Unfortunately, the email ended up in a “quarantine file” in our email system and we didn’t see it until this morning — nearly 24 hours after the article was published. We’ve since connected with Miller and she assures us she was not trying to hide the fact that Santorum is longer attending the dinner.


Hide Your Porn! Rick Santorum’s Coming to New York. Newt Gingrich, Too

Wannabe presidential candidate Rick Santorum — who the Washington Post has decided is edging “towards the embarrassment zone” — apparently still thinks he can win the GOP presidential primary — which is adorable. Sadly, that means he’ll soon start campaigning in New York, where 95 delegates are at stake when New Yorkers head to the polls in the April 24 primary.

One of the stops on Santorum’s quest to woo New York Republicans will be the New York Republican Party’s Annual Dinner on April 19, just five days before the primary — where he’ll likely steal some of the thunder of the Dinner’s keynote speaker, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (see our post on Jindal here).

“With 95 delegates at stake, New York will play a decisive role in this year’s Republican

Presidential nominating contest,” New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox says. “We
are pleased that Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich have agreed to
be special guests at our annual dinner.”

Oh, yeah… former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who simply refuses to
throw in the towel until former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the
front-runner in the race, offers him the job as his vice presidential running mate reaches 1,114 delegates (the number needed to clinch the nomination).

As our colleague Victoria Bekiempis explained earlier, Santorum has no fucking chance at winning the New York primary trails Romney nearly 2-1 in the Empire State, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning.

The GOP’s Annual Dinner will be held on April 19 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in New York City.


Bobby Jindal, Fizzled GOP Star, To Give Keynote At New York Republicans’ Annual Dinner

We know what you were probably thinking when you woke up this morning: “what ever happened to Bobby Jindal after that ghastly response he gave to President Barack Obama’s 2009 State of the Union Address?”

Well, maybe you weren’t…but we’ve got an update anyway.

Jindal, a former U.S. congressman/current governor of Louisiana — and a once-rising GOP star considered as a possible vice-presidential candidate in the 2008 election — will be in New York next month to give the keynote address at the New York Republican Party’s Annual Dinner.

“Governor Jindal has led the way on a wide array of issues, including charter schools, education reform, energy policy, ethics reform, and fiscal responsibility,” New York Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox says. “In a time when millions of Americans are struggling to find employment and make ends meet, Governor Jindal has proven that conservative ideas and solutions are the most effective and efficient form of government.”

Jindal, as we mentioned, was on track to do big things. Then this happened.

Aside from flat-out lying about his meeting with the late Harry Lee, the former sheriff of Jefferson Parish — which includes New Orleans — in the Big Easy in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (Jindal wasn’t even in New Orleans at the time), he came across in his response as a bit of a doofus.

Jindal’s response to the president’s address was called “a disaster for the Republican Party”…by conservatives.

Jindal then slipped off the national stage, and his GOP stardom fizzled.

The GOP dinner is scheduled for April 19 — just five days before the New York GOP presidential primary — at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Manhattan. If Jindal’s speech is anything like his response to Obama’s State of Union, you might want to bring a pillow.