02 September 2008

Obama’s Bounce, the RNC Convention, and Hurricanes

(Rather a rambling post. Revision upcoming)

The most recent release of polling data shows that Senator Obama has shot ahead of Senator McCain in all polls. Such results might be expected as they follow the Democratic National Convention. Real Clear Politics puts Obama ahead with an average of 6.4 points. But will this last? We have another few days of the Republican National Convention before us, and there's no telling what might occur in the Twin Cities between now and Friday.

Although the Republican National Convention has been disrupted by Hurricane Gustav, they’ve wisely used that disruption to present the Party in all of its humanitarian glory (yes, in an attempt to make up for the pr disaster of Katrina). Will their fundraising and calls to volunteerism aid them, or will it bring forth memories of the sour responses to Katrina by the then-Republican controlled White House and Congress? This includes the political game playing and cronyism (e.g., “heckuva job, Brownie”), the calls to raze New Orleans (the lower ninth ward in particular), and Barbara Bush’s comments on Katrina evacuees that seemed to encapsulate the perspective of those in charge:

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas," Barbara Bush said in an interview on Monday with the radio program "Marketplace." "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality."

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway," she said, "so this is working very well for them."

The implied noblesse oblige, the lack of awareness or insensitivity reflected in those remarks seemed to sum up the party-in-power's understanding of the disaster. Will this week’s attempts at cleaning the slate work for the Republican Party ? As with any event, we’ll have to wait and see. Certainly, it will improve the Party’s image in some eyes—after all, the outgoing President has been assigned much of the blame for the Katrina fiasco—and this effectively tells the public “see? We’ve learned something, and we do care about the less fortunate.” But will it erase the country’s memories of the Party’s overall approach to the storm, the city, and the people?

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