'Change' politics in a hurricane
Voters expect 'change' and in the run-up to Gustav, they saw some change in their leaders.
America's mood this election year is for "change." But from what? The Bush years? The once near-certainty of another Clinton in the White House? A "safe" choice for GOP vice president? Perhaps from a Congress whose popularity is so low that it could crawl under a snake with a top hat on?
The days before hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Coast have provided one answer. The storm gave an example of the kind of change that Americans might expect – seen in the better preparations for this storm compared to the pre-Katrina debacle of 2005.
Before Gustav, President Bush was a commander in chief in directing preparations rather than politicking at the much-muted GOP convention or sitting in the White House. The New Orleans mayor stepped up to the task this time and ordered an early evacuation of his city. Before the storm, the city's levees were at least better shored up and repaired than before Katrina.
The Red Cross put 3,000 volunteers in place beforehand. Churches nationwide prepared their charity and gave their prayers before the storm. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other government bodies tried to better coordinate rescue efforts.
Amazingly, Gustav forced both Democratic and GOP leaders to put aside partisanship for the sake of the nation – for a few days. John McCain and Barack Obama displayed a measure of presidential-style leadership. Now that may be a change worth voting for – if only it lasted and it was for real.