President Obama has some unique opportunities with the aftermath of hurricane Sandy. While it sounds very cold, he will certainly use this situation for his own political gain. This is the way of the politician. What works in his favor is the fact that whenever there’s a disaster of this magnitude, people rally around the officials in office. People look to those holding elected office to DO something.
What I’m expecting Obama to do is to pull some great speech material from the situation.
For example, with Romney’s intention to privatize FEMA, Obama can use the situation created by Hurricane Sandy to make Romney out as uncaring and out of touch with the needs of the people who were devastated by the storm. He could even try and criticize Romney for running a relief effort outside of the Red Cross.
Obama is very capable of delivering very inspiring speeches, and Sandy provides a unique opportunity to do so. I think it’s highly likely that the tone of his speeches will incorporate key phrases like “we’re all in this together” or “we have to keep going.” The virtue of perseverance in spite of obstacles will certainly be stressed. With this turn of events, it is easy for him to work in his message of moving “forward.”
There is another direction he could go in, but it’s a long shot — he could pay homage to the Broken Window theory. The theory (for those unfamiliar) discusses this scenario: if a boy breaks a window in a cobbler’s shop, the cobbler then has to pay money to the repairman. The repairman might go and purchase groceries or some new tool for his work. The idea is to stimulate the economy in the midst of the devastating aftermath. While I have my own opinions on the theory, I think it likely that Obama will discuss how there will be plenty of rebuilding that needs to be done, and how we will “bounce back” economically speaking as a result.
These are all topics he could discuss which would give him a greater edge, but there are tangible results to be gained from this disaster as well. Because of how much was destroyed by Sandy, this would be a perfect opportunity for Obama to gain a friend in Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) through authorized pork-barrel spending. It appears that Obama and Christie may already be fostering a stronger relationship through this disaster. Whether that will translate into more money for New Jersey remains to be seen, but the potential is there.
But just as there is opportunity in this disaster, there is danger. New York and New Jersey voter turnout threatens to be extremely low because of how close this disaster happened to the election. The idea of postponement has been floated by many, but it seems unlikely because of Congress’ recess. It’s hard to know exactly how badly this will impact either candidate either with popular vote or in the Electoral College.
It will be interesting to see how the candidates continue to react in the wake of this calamity. Both candidates have some pitfalls and some opportunities to contend with, but Obama has a significant advantage with those most affected by this storm. That said, it’s impossible to know the true impact of hurricane Sandy until after the election. I await November 6 with great anticipation.