Forget all the photo ops President Obama staged with Chris Christie. A new batch of images is on the way.
Obama has declared FEMA ready, and Christie said the federal response had been terrific. But just as it took a few days after Hurricane Katrina to see the true devastation and the insufficiency of the response in New Orleans, the reality of Hurricane Sandy for New York and New Jersey is now sinking in.
I can’t say whether or not FEMA or local officials did the best the could under the circumstances. I can say that what Americans are seeing now and will continue to see are scenes of abject devastation right here in the United States of America, and bewildered victims wondering where the help they were promised is.
Reuters today summed up the peril for the person in charge, Obama:
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Administrator Richard Serino planned to visit Staten Island on Friday amid angry claims by some survivors that the borough had been ignored.
Scenes of angry storm victims could complicate matters for politicians, from President Barack Obama just four days before the general election, to governors and mayors in the most heavily populated region in the United States. Obama so far has received praise for his handling of Sandy.
“They forgot about us,” said Theresa Connor, 42, describing her Staten Island neighborhood as having been “annihilated.” “And (Mayor Michael) Bloomberg said New York is fine. The marathon is on!”
Adding to heated tempers, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut drivers were also confronting a shortage of gasoline. Even before dawn on Friday, long lines of cars snaked around gasoline stations around the area, and police were in place at many spots to keep the peace between furious, frustrated drivers.
While the slight rise in the unemployment rate may not on its own have much impact on the election, a synergy may develop between the enduring joblessness, the metastasizing questions about Benghazi, and the struggle for subsistence playing out on cable TV to give Americans the sense that the country is in really bad shape.
Which it is.