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Susan Estrich
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The October Surprise



Don't get me wrong. Like most Americans, politics was the last thing on my mind as I waited to hear from my daughter, who lost power and cell service Monday night, along with millions of other Americans, and was trying to figure out what to do and where to go with a roommate and two kittens. In a crisis, we're all Americans first, and if that shuts off this campaign for a few days, it's probably the only positive from this storm.

The president is being the president, which is obviously what matters right now. He was up most of Monday night, along with the rest of us, the big difference being that he could do more than worry. By morning, the papers had been signed clearing the way for much needed federal help to the hardest hit areas.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, one of President Obama's harshest political critics, had only positive things to say about the president's being "all over" the crisis and deserving credit for that. As he should. The people of New Jersey don't want to hear about politics right now. They want their governor to put that aside and do everything he can to help them.

The first rule in a crisis like this, which Christie got without needing an entire phalanx of political pros around him, is that you put politics aside. That is to say, whatever you may be thinking in your heart of hearts with the election only days away, the last thing you want to do is look political.

So why didn't someone tell Mitt Romney?

And if they did, why didn't he listen?

While my daughter was figuring out what to do, while I was waiting for the phone to ring, while storm victims and friends and relatives and anyone with a TV set turned on was trying to figure out how we dig out of this mess, Romney was on his way to Ohio to pack up some boxes of food to send to New Jersey.

Now, there is nothing wrong with packing up supplies for those who have been hit by this storm.

That is a very good thing to do. But traveling to Ohio with a planeload of reporters and Secret Service agents and the rest to pack boxes of supplies?

Why not just leave your house in Massachusetts, where 290,000 households were without power on Tuesday morning? Or go to a shelter near your other house in New Hampshire, where another 210,000 households are without power? That's half a million households right there, all within driving distance.

Why fly all the way to Ohio — where no households are without power — to help?

Help who?

Excuse me, but isn't Ohio the state that no Republican gets elected president without carrying? Actually, it is. What an amazing coincidence. Could you be any more obvious?

On the day after the storm made groundfall, there was one guy who was looking political, and his name is Mitt Romney. Either no one around him dared speak truth to power, or he wasn't listening. And that, to me, is even worse than the cuts the Ryan budget would make to FEMA — if you really want to think about politics.

Don't get me wrong, most of us don't. But what else is there to think about when you see Romney with those boxes in Dayton, Ohio?

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



13 Comments | Post Comment
A lot of people who ave been through disasters say that wish FEMA never would have shown up. They come and take over the area, kicking out other charities and volunteer relief efforts. Woulden't want people to think that government isen't needed and that people can take care of each other. FEMA is just another beauracracy that takes over and bosses people around. They also take everyones guns, then the looters start their bussiness. Government wants people to think they need to take care of you, but for every problem there is a free market, liberty-minded solution out there that is much, much better. The more we rely on government, the more we become enslaved to it.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:19 PM

What a worthless liar Susan is . . . the Liar in Chief, Obama, is nothing but political on every issue. Of course he is focusing on the storm . . . he would do anything to aviod having to tell evn more lies about Benghazi.

He was thrilled to see the storm and probably hoped for more death and damage so he could look even more presidential while responding.
Comment: #2
Posted by: SusansMirror
Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:02 PM
Where would be have found supplies in the hard hit areas? And if he was being political why didn't he go to a state that's a tossup? Ohio is already in the bag.
Comment: #3
Posted by: ed zschau
Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:48 AM
According to Susan, Romney just can't do anything right. On the other hand BHO is just perfect. So sad for Susan and Susan's daughter!!
Comment: #4
Posted by: Oldtimer
Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:03 AM
Mitt Romney is now in full retreat mode from his satement at that Republican debate where he clearly stated that he ould want FEMA disbanded. Just minutes ago his campaign released ANOTHER statement about FEMA which he now says he supports.
Clearly the Romney idea to send the money for FEMA to the states would simply allow the governors of many states to spend hand over fist on all sorts of budget busting projects and then raiding the FEMA fund money to balance the budget. That is not an effective way of using disaster resource money.
One thing that is clear from this hurricane disaster is that global warming, which that party denies because they are controlled by the big energy crowd that is pushing fossil fuels over solar and wind energy, has moved the warm currents of the Atlantic much farther north. That means that we are in for many more of these huge tropical storms hitting our shores in the northern states of New Jersey and New York. The unfortuante residents of New Jersey have just had the first lesson in the effects of global warming. Perhaps they will wake up to the dangers of letting Billionaires make energy policy against the advice of many many scientists who have been warning us for years.
It is sad that an entire party has been taken over by billionaires only interested in THEIR bottom line and the hell with the rest of us.
Comment: #5
Posted by: robert lipka
Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:19 AM
This is not a serious Op-Ed. It is far more of a desperate attempt to find something/anything wrong with Romney to complain about. Last week it was the phony "Romney will end all abortions" issue. Today it appears to be yesterdays stop in Ohio. I note that the rest of the Obama supporters seem to be jumping on this same bandwagon, almost as if someone were orchestrating this nonsense. It makes the progressive movement appear(?) awful small and silly.

Perhaps next week Ms. Estrich will do something unprecedented and write a pro-Obama (vice anti-Romney) article? Perhaps she could take on something difficult like explaining what the presidents agenda is for a second term beyond occuppying the White House and deeficit spending.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Old Navy
Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:31 AM
The Monday storm ruined the President's ground game. Reports said that on Tuesday 16 million people had no electricity; on Wednesday, 4 million. That means for three days no one saw the President's commercials, went to his fundraisers, read his web sites or contributed money online. The devastated area ran right through the heart of the regions of Obama's strongest support. The broken subways, flooded roads, closed bridges will surely depress his turnout on election day and have probably have ended the early vote campaign. Hurricane Sandy hammered Philadelphia and might result in swinging the whole state of Pennsylvania to the Republicans.

No one will even hear that Romney went to Ohio to distribute food to storm victims.

If it rains on the school picnic, the President gets blamed. This dreadful storm has cost a lot of people a lot of money. Will that help the President?
Comment: #7
Posted by: Cowboy Jay
Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:18 AM
Cowboy Jay,,,, And the other side of that is that no one will hear all of the Romney ads either. And that pathetic use of a so-called food drive by Romney at a campaign stop where Romney first ran a campaign ad on a big screen was hardly a compassionate gesture. The Red Cross complained vigorously about Romney's use of that campign stop to gather cans of food. That interferes with their actual relief efforts. The media ought to follow that yellow rental truck like they followed OJ as it weds it way to New Jersey to dropp off a few bags of groceries to the people in the affected area. That is when the media will discover hw pathetically inept Mitt Romney is at coping with a massive problem like Hurricane Sandy. Chris Christie said it best on FOX and Friends when host Steeve DOOCY tried to mke a political remark about Mitt Romney coming to New Jersey for a photo op. Christie said, I dont give a damn about the presidential campaign. We have millions of people to take care of.
Christie clearly had no respect for Mitt Romney. At the same time he praised the president for his efforts to get things going to help the people of New Jersey.
I hope the media does cover that one dinky little Romney truck half-filled with a few cans of food as it wends it way down the Pennsylvania turnpike to New Jersey. I hope the media does cover what happens at the final distribution point. and then just lets the public see what happens and make no snarky comments on the distribution of that big relief effort on the part of Mittens. P. Romney. Then they can compare it to what the Federal government and the Army Corps of Engineers will do to start the clean-up process in conjunction with the National Guard and FEMA. When a huge disaster like this strikes, the role of national government is never more important.
Comment: #8
Posted by: robert lipka
Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:59 AM
By the way, I believe that Joseph Wright lives somewhere in New Jersey and although I vehemently oppose most of what he says on this post line, I hope that he and his family are safe. Life is always more important than politics.
Comment: #9
Posted by: robert lipka
Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:02 AM
Robert you say billionaires in the energy sector dictate Romneys energy policy, but who dictates Obamas? If you said billionaires in the energy sector, you win a prize. Only now its the green energy and enviornmentalist billionaires that have their hands on the marrionette strings. Obama gives taxpayer dollars to these industries while putting crushing regulations on traditional forms of energy. For every bad thing you say about Romney, you're not wrong, but there is just as much corruption taking place in the democrats camp. The who and the where might be different, but the how, and why are exacely the same.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:57 AM
Re: robert lipka
First and second posts.

Still peddling the wholly contrived man made global warming? Dinosaurs eventually died out and so will the warmers.

I would hope that the media would for once get honest and report upon the Benghazi bungle aka the murder of an Ambassador and other Americans for which obama is directly responsible. Not much hope there !

As to third post.

Your concerns are taken as sincere, are appreciated and are indeed reciprocated.

That said, Independence is all. Non reliance upon others is all. Non reliance upon government is all.

We are perfectly safe thanks, but not least because we are prepared for most man made or natural contingencies, with stocks of food, water, water making capability, independent generators, air cleansing ability, weapons and amunition all in a home and grounds especially designed to cope with most predictable eventualities.

We are and can be entirely self sufficient for about a year or maybe more, because we have purposely taken appropriate steps since barry boy came to power. We fear and hope it does not happen but fully expect a major terrorist incident involving Islamists and fissile material and expect the actual race and or class warfare he is stoking up
As to politics an old football coach used to say to us, he referrign to winning, I referring to Romney winning this upcoming election, "its not life and death........its much more important than that!" .
Comment: #11
Posted by: joseph wright
Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:20 PM
There are 2 ways to look at the response to natural disasters. One way is to have government come in and take control. Of course government agencies in inefficient so expect a small portion of the taxpayer money they get to be put towards relief efforts. This way is dependent on government and comes with strings and submission. The other way is to take matters in your own hands and prepare yourself as best you can. Volunteer relief efforts will show up and assist people. People are very generous if you let them be. People gave over 10 million to the haiti relief efforts. This turned out to be a scam by the Bush's and Clintons, but thats besides the point. The bottom line is that one way involves government and enslavement and the other involves liberty, self reliance, and generosity. People are at their best when the government gun is pointed away from their heads.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:34 PM
Ms. Estrich's argument agreement is an absolutely classic example of destructive leftwing thinking:

The problem in the devastated areas is getting resources to desperate people. There is a limited basket of resources on site available to those people.

Ms. Estrich solution is classic leftwing redistributionist: Romney should make a big show of appearing and somehow using his influence to redistribute what is already on hand in a better way. He should take on the role of Super Bureaucrat, grabbing power by pitting one desperate group against another to see who gets the goodies.

Romney's solution is to make the available basket of scarce resources bigger by bringing more resources to the devastated area.

This is the heart of the choice facing America:

Do we want to live in a redistributionist country where corrupt anti-growth politicians gain power by setting Americans at each other's throat fighting over who gets a bigger piece of the shrinking pie or do we want to live in a pro-growth America where all are pulling in one direction to improve everyone's lot by increasing the size of the pie?

Ms. Estrich appears dumfounded that any politician could actually want to increase available resources. How could any politician demagogue their way to power doing that?
Comment: #13
Posted by: Tidford Tatt
Thu Nov 1, 2012 9:16 AM
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