The Media Is the Umpire/The GOP the Away Team
Why do Republicans tend to fare worse than Democrats during national crises? Media bias is partially to blame. According to Tevi Troy, Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s political strategist, told Mr. Troy “When it comes to presidential politics, the media are the umpires and the Republican is always the away team.”
When Jeb Bush was governor (two terms 1999-2007), he got high marks for handling a series of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005, which included Katrina. Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Troy reminds WSJ readers, made landfall in South Florida “a few days before it devastated New Orleans.”
President Bush made some missteps with Katrina. For example, the president’s flyover of the affected area was a mistake, he now admits. “I should have landed.”
But Bush allies complained, with some reason, that local officials, particularly Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, both Democrats, were uncooperative on whether to send in federal troops and failed to evacuate Mr. Nagin’s city when they should have.
They each had a comeuppance. She became increasingly unpopular and chose not to run for re-election; he went to prison for corruption. But the damage was done for Mr. Bush. His public standing never recovered during his presidency, and his second-term agenda faltered.
Mr. Troy praises Governor DeSantis for being generally “aggressive in challenging media narratives.”
But Ian will require deft handling of Florida’s disaster capabilities and the media if he is going to emerge with his political viability intact. He has also sounded the right notes on cooperation, saying, “It’s my sense that the administration wants to help.”
Shall We Wake the President?
The risk for Mr. Biden, as he approaches his 80th birthday in November, is that he can appear old and out of touch. To counter that, he will need to make sure that the Federal Emergency Management Administration is on top of its game in responding to the hurricane.
Good Crisis Management Is Vital
(DeSantis) also has to be careful not to appear to be playing politics with federal resources. Snubbing a perceived rival could make Mr. Biden look petty toward Mr. DeSantis and callous toward the people of Florida.
It’s easy for politicians and pundits to talk about the need for elected officials to work together without really meaning it, argues Mr. Troy.
But in the case of disasters, cooperation is generally good crisis management and good politics.
Mr. Troy served as deputy secretary of health and human services, 2007-09.
If you’re willing to fight for Main Street America, click here to sign up for the Richardcyoung.com free weekly email.