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Politicizing Tragedy

As Americans woke this morning, they were met with news of the destruction left by Hurricane Sandy across the East; that is if they have any power.  Over 7 million homes are without power in the wake of the storm.  As it raged through the night, a hospital was forced to evacuate when their backup generator failed, water poured into the subways in New York City, a nuclear power plant was forced to shut down and flooding was seen from state to state.  16 people have been confirmed dead so far.  Bloomberg estimates the damage to exceed $20 billion and the stock market is closed for the second day in row, this being the first time weather has forced its closure since 1888.  A storm of this magnitude will no doubt take time to recover from, yet even before many could fully get a handle on the situation, some were already capitalizing on it for political gain.

As the storm approached yesterday, the Romney camp withdrew from campaigning, “going dark” through at least today.  President Obama was forced off the campaign trail as well and flew back to D.C. to keep a close eye on the situation.  The President, however, called on former President Bill Clinton to cover previously scheduled campaign events he couldn’t attend.  Clinton, seeing the hurricane as a new opportunity to sway voters, then used his position to compare Obama’s political opponent to the massive, deadly storm that was approaching.

We’re coming down to the 11th hour.  We’re facing a violent storm.  It’s nothing compared to the storm we’ll face if you don’t make the right decision in this election.

Taking their cue, the New York Times hopped on board later yesterday evening.  In the midst of the storm ravaging the coast, a pro-Obama post went up on the Times website.  ”A Big Storm Requires Big Government,” sought to explain to the masses that if it weren’t for President Obama saving the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), that Republican ideology would leave those in Hurricane Sandy’s path paying for emergency water.

The obvious politicization of our nation’s latest tragedy is not anything new, but it’s a far cry from President Obama’s speech following the shooting in Tucson, AZ last year, in which 18 people were shot at a political event; including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who barely survived, and nine-year old Christina-Taylor Green, who was murdered.  In his speech, the President urged for the current political dialogue to be conducted in a more civil manner.  Said the President:

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do, it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that — that heals, not in a way that wounds.  Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding.

President Obama went on to say:

But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other…  Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle.

The President ended his speech by claiming that he believed we could be better.  Unfortunately for the President and the nation, it appears Obama’s supporters will not be better; instead choosing to, once again, use today’s hardships for tomorrow’s talking points.

Cross-posted at Revealing Politics

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