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Gustav a headache for Republicans
Hurricane Gustav could prove an ill wind for the Republicans as they prepare for convention.
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2008 22:22 GMT

 
The monster hurricane swirling in the Gulf of Mexico has become a category-four headache for Republicans planning to open their convention on Monday in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The last thing Republicans want is a frantic split-screen effect on American cable news channels: pictures of flooding, devastation and crying children on one side and well-heeled convention delegates whooping it up on the other.

It appears that is not going to happen.

John McCain, the Republican candidate, and his newly chosen running mate Sarah Palin, have decamped to the Gulf state of Mississippi to examine emergency preparations and show appropriate, sober concern.

Relief effort

George Bush, the US president, will skip the convention altogether.

Instead of delivering his opening-night speech on Monday, he will be in Texas monitoring the relief effort.

That is quite a contrast with the whereabouts of both men three years ago, as Hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans.

Back then, Bush and McCain were together in Arizona holding a McCain fundraiser.

The Bush administration's utterly inept handling of Katrina and the apparent lack of concern Bush showed for the victims in the initial stages of the storm and its aftermath were, even more that the bungled war in Iraq, the beginning of Bush's political decline.

The moment Bush backslapped his bumbling Emergency Management chief Michael Brown and sang out a hearty "Heckuva job, Brownie!" was the moment his presidency headed irretrievably southward.

Of course, any vivid reminder of Katrina is bad news for the Republicans.

But politically, Gustav could turn out to be neutral, or even a positive, for McCain.

Impending disaster

Keeping Bush away from St. Paul and off television during the convention has got to be a plus any way you look at it.

McCain's show of sensitivity to the impending disaster is likely to play well with the public.

He has made it clear the convention cannot go on oblivious to the storm.

The gathering's first day is to be shortened, and there is even talk of turning the whole event into a kind of fundraising telethon to aid victims of Gustav.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama, the Democrat candidate, is letting this drama play itself out without putting in a personal appearance in the Gulf region.

Obama indicated he might use his internet and phone database of supporters to mobilise a corps of volunteers to help recovery efforts after the storm.

Hey, wouldn't it be nice if the whole political apparatus of the Republicans and Democrats were actually used to achieve something positive and help some people in need?

Source:
Al Jazeera
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