Political Animal


August 27, 2012 9:34 AM Conservatives Hate Hurricanes

By Ed Kilgore

So for the second time in a row, the Republican National Convention lost a day to a natural disaster. The fact that Tropical Storm Isaac posed some threat to the convention site itself made it a complete no-brainer. But even if Isaac passes Tampa by and wreaks havoc further up the Gulf Coast, it’s just bad for Republicans. Part of that, of course, is because of lingering memories of the Bush administration’s wretched handling of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. But part of it is that a political party committed deeply to the proposition that government is always the problem and never the solution is just going to struggle with situations where competent government is absolutely essential.

Alan Wolfe made this point in a 2006 article for the Washington Monthly entitled “Why Conservatives Can’t Govern:”

If government is necessary, bad government, at least for conservatives, is inevitable, and conservatives have been exceptionally good at showing just how bad it can be. Hence the truth revealed by the Bush years: Bad government—indeed, bloated, inefficient, corrupt, and unfair government—is the only kind of conservative government there is. Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well.

A Republican presidential ticket whose chieftain can barely bring himself to talk about his own governing experience in Massachusetts (supported by a running-mate whose entire experience in government has focused on disabling governance) is never going to welcome one of those recurring phenomena that show why we have government in the first place.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Marvin on August 27, 2012 9:50 AM:

    I had just the opposite take on this situation. If NOLA is destroyed a second time, how could that possibly be good news for the Obama campaign? Isaac could literally drown out both conventions, but leave any disaster-response failures on the administration's doorstep. Am I correct in thinking that every Gulf state governor is a Republican? I can't imagine any of them covering for President Obama the way that Haley Barbour went to bat for President Bush.

    For Obama's sake, as well as those in the path of the storm, I'm praying that a weak tropical system makes landfall at low tide, bringing much-needed rain to drought-stricken inland areas.

  • c u n d gulag on August 27, 2012 9:58 AM:

    For a party that doesn't believe in it, Republicans have running and winning elections down to a science.

    But once elected, they can't govern.
    It's like asking a vegan to make bacon-wrapped Tur-duck-en, with a gravy made with pan-drippings.

    Democrats can govern, but can barely win elections.
    And when they do win, Republicans do everything they can to stop the Democrats from governing.

    And the only reason Republicans want to cut government, is so that they, their familiy members, and their cronies, can pocket those "savings."

    Banana Republic's don't build themselves, folks.

  • esaud on August 27, 2012 10:04 AM:

    The networks (but not PBS) were not going to cover the convention on Monday anyway, so they aren't giving much up by cancelling tonight's speeches.

    The schedule for Tuesday through Friday, I think, is mostly after 10:00 eastern time, so I presume they will be broadcasting a highly edited version. Given the pro-Republican stance of the major networks, I'm sure any over-the-top language from Huckabee, Ron Paul, etc. will be papered over.

  • DRF on August 27, 2012 10:04 AM:

    Just to drill down a bit deeper on the point, Republicans' general antipathy for government means that there are relatively few Republicans who see public service as a legitimate career. Therefore, most politically-appointed staffers in Republican administrations are serving in government merely as a resume building item, in order to make their subsequent private sector career more lucrative, and often don't care about--or are even opposed to--the policy objectives of their government jobs.

  • Peter C on August 27, 2012 10:20 AM:

    There is NOTHING which will kill and organization more quickly than having a leader who doesn't believe the organization should exist. This, as much as many other factors, caused the damage of the Bush years.

    I was the victim of bad Republican governance last Friday; I waited in line for three hours in order to replace my son's learner's permit driver's license. The demand was utterly predictable; our county's population (Fort Bend, Texas) has been growing astoundingly for years. The lines at the county facility have been appalling for months. The facility hours are 8 - 5 M-F. They could double the hours of the facility (by hiring unemployed people) and cut the lines in half (AND make it CONVENIENT for people who work - I took a half a day vacation to sit outside in line in the Texas sun). But, Republicans don't believe in public sector jobs (and they want people to hate government and government workers), so I get to have a 'Texas Staycation'. Lucky me.

  • Diane Rodriguez on August 27, 2012 10:24 AM:

    Not wishing for destruction or harm from the Hurricane. However, the irony of an natural disaster, read Act of God, causing a delay in the Pepublican convention is so ripe for exploitation. Looks like there may be a divine message there for Republicans......Come on, there's got to be a cleric out there who can throw a lightening bolt and interpret the "signs".

  • anon on August 27, 2012 10:27 AM:

    There is enormous irony that the Katrina hurricane hit Louisiana seven years ago to the day, and Republicans in office outrageously bungled the response.
    In fact, Bush was in Arizona during that time presenting a cake to John McCain!! Talk about Marie Antoinette!

    Indeed, the hurricane coming as we speak puts Repulicans in a bad light with their hatred of government.

    By the way I hear security costs in Tampa for the Republicans' convention top 7 million dollars.
    That could feed a lot of the country's poor.
    Let's recall that Paul Ryan said "Too many Americans are receiving more from the government than they pay in taxes."
    What bunk from a privileged, entitled Congressman receiving tax payer funds for his income, medical care, travel, security, etc. The wealthy Paul Ryan, always in a Washington bubble, routinely avoided talking to his constituents through accessible town halls in Wisconsin.
    Talk about disinterest in citizens. It is unreal he would talk about the poor not paying taxes.

    A 2011 Citizens for Tax Justice report revealed that over the previous 2 years, ExxonMobil reported $9,910 million in pretax U.S. profits. But it enjoyed so many tax subsidies that its federal income tax bill was only $39 million -- a tax rate of only 0.4 percent.

    Republicans love their tax cuts and endless loopholes for corporations.
    Republicans like Paul Ryan always say "we need to talk about the economy" however all they do is to pass laws restricting womens' rights, their access to contraception or abortion and suppress the votes of potential Democrats in Republican-governed states. All they talk about is taking away our health care thru repealing the Affordable Care Act, and demolishing important programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

    This convention just reminds us that George W Bush was put into office by the Supreme Court and wrecked the economy during eight long years--failed banks, crashing markets, losses of jobs, foreclosures of homes, jobs shipped overseas, two unpaid wars. An ignored Gulf Coast with people suffering for days on the street.

    President Obama is dealing with that very recession, his policies saved the auto Industry. 29 straight months of job growth. Stock market over $13,000. Nasdag and s&P 500 also up.

  • sjw on August 27, 2012 11:01 AM:

    Progressives had better get their heads out of their asses. Romney is polling better and better with a stealth campaign that the MSM cannot cover in an honest way. A shortened convention helps Romney, as voters will know even less about him than they might.
    Just to be fair, Obama ain't no great shakes either. I voted for him 4 years ago and I will vote for him again, but he's weak and reactive and way too reticent about his own successes and philosophy.
    Uh, hello people: we've got the makings of a ginormous cluster fuck in November. And Democrats in Congress better start thinking about how to stop the Republican legislative machine because they certainly won't hesitate to use the mechanism of "reconciliation" and even end the filibuster to get their way.

  • Josef K on August 27, 2012 11:06 AM:

    In the absence of 'Hurricane Herman' melting down on the Convention floor, I suppose a delay by a wimpy tropical storm is just as interesting.

    This entire election cycle is definitely one for the books.

  • lou on August 27, 2012 12:45 PM:

    Nothing says "We Built It!" better than to have a great, coordinated governmental effort come to the aid of "self made" millionaires at the GOP convention. Setting themselves up for such a fall seems to come naturally for the party of no and denial. Why nearly half the country assumes it would be a good idea to go along with their fiascos and nominate a man who reflects their inability to govern and cause a financial collapse in one ticket is just dumbfounding. Its the lotto and casino mindset. They abandon all reason with the risk takers.

  • anon on August 27, 2012 12:55 PM:

    I don't think the hurricane helps Republicans.
    Clearly, coverage of the Gulf Coast end results will bring out comparisions to Katrina in 2005--it is inevitable.
    And the states will likely have federal assistance/FEMA.
    Comparisons will change the conversation to the failed Bush policies. And Kanye West's George Bush doesn't care about black people.
    Especially with Mitt Romney just invoking the disgraceful birther controversy/race-baiting.

    And this:
    "Creating a potential headache for his campaign, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said big businesses in the U.S. were "doing fine" in part because they get advantages from offshore tax havens."

    "His comments echoed similar assertions about the state of big business by President Barack Obama which Romney has criticized. They're also a reminder that the GOP candidate has kept some of his personal fortune in low tax foreign accounts."

    "Big business is doing fine in many places," Romney said during a campaign fundraiser Thursday. "They get the loans they need, they can deal with all the regulation. They know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world for their businesses."

    "Romney's assertions resembled Obama's declaration earlier this summer that the "private sector is doing fine." Romney and other Republicans pounced on the president's comments and cast them as an indication that he was out of touch with the nation's economic struggles..."


  • TCinLA on August 27, 2012 2:02 PM:

    And now that the hurricane is headed towards New Orleans, the Katrina Comparison will be inevitable when the capable, competent, Obama FEMA handles whatever happens there capably and competently.

    Goddess really does hate Republicans, doesn't she?

  • boatboy_srq on August 27, 2012 2:26 PM:

    @TCinLA: Add to that the damage done in FL this year will be a lot more visible now that Governor Voldemort has slashed state budgets: the 2004 season was devastating, but nobody outside FL saw that because the state (then governed by Jeb Bush) took on the recovery itself and kept FEMA involvement to a minimum. Scott's FL doesn't have a hope of doing anything similar, and FEMA will almost certainly have a (major, constructive) part to play.

  • Doug on August 27, 2012 5:47 PM:

    TCinLA and boatboy_srq, why do you think FEMA will even be able to respond? I doubt the current FEMA budget has more than enough in it to provide for much other than day-to-day operations. FEMA operations in Florida and the Gulf Coast will likely require an emergency appropriation and we all know Cantor's view on THAT:
    "If it's not in MY district, it's not an emergency!"