At first I thought, this is a joke, right? What’s this going to be like?
Weather Official: Mr. President, it looks like there will be a lot of hurricanes this year.
President Obama: Gosh.
Weather Official: We’re getting fully prepared.
Obama: Got anything else?
Weather Official: Nope
Obama: Can you give me the forecast for this afternoon?
Weather Official: HOT. No hurricanes.
Obama: Well, thank you very much. Jay, issue the press release saying I’m on top of the hurricanes.
Well, yes, today’s “hurricane briefing” will be part PR. Maybe a big part PR. But meeting with the president has the desirable effect of getting everyone’s ass in gear.
Here’s the summary of what’s going to happen at this morning’s session:
The President will hold a meeting on national preparedness and FEMA’s “Whole Community” approach to disaster management. This year, the briefing will not only feature federal partners, but will also include state, local, non-profit, faith-based as well as private sector partners.
Sometimes, mistakes that have huge political costs – like George W. Bush’s slow response to the Katrina disaster and Obama’s own egregious handling of the Gulf Oil spill – eventually produce positive change.
Obama’s effort this year to get the hurricane response mechanism organized ahead of time and make sure everyone understands they will be responsible to him for their actions is a strategy that might well save lives – and steer him clear of a political debacle.