The unwritten political rule when disaster strikes is that campaigns take a back seat, far behind recovery efforts. Such is the case with super storm Sandy, as both presidential campaigns put their official electioneering efforts on hold while the tempest slammed the East Coast this week. Putting the storm into political context was left to pundits and other professional opinionators.
But where the candidates and their on-the-record surrogates kept mum as the storm rolled on shore in New Jersey and New York, L.A. Times readers brought politics to the fore. This isn't to say readers' comments weren't cogent; indeed, there's much to be said for bringing up touchy issues (say, funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency) the moment they face their biggest on-the-ground tests (say, Sandy). Rather, perhaps this shows that voters aren't as sensitive to politics in a time of national crisis as the candidates are.
So far, the mailbag haul for Superstorm Sandy has been relatively light: about two dozen letters. Almost all of them make political points, including the campaign ramifications for President Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney, the candidates' views on federal disaster spending and climate-change policy. Below is a selection of those letters, edited for style, grammar and clarity.
Commander in chief just in time (and what about Benghazi?)
President Obama's mantra of never letting a crisis go to waste is in full swing as he takes control as commander in chief during Hurricane Sandy on the eve of the presidential election.
Helping our people in a disaster is a good thing. However, it does not excuse his behavior in the deadly terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the loss of four patriot lives, or his abdication of responsibility to our economy and national security.
Daniel B. Jeffs
Which candidate was it who called for cutting FEMA?
Thanks must given to all first responders for their valiant efforts: police officers, firefighters, medical personnel and public utility workers for their valiant efforts. Hurricane Sandy's wicked force has hurt so many. With FEMA and our president's leadership, we will bounce back.
Mitt Romney wants to spend less money on federal disaster relief and even once suggested that the private sector could take on some of the responsibility from FEMA. His running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), proposed federal budgets that would hit FEMA hard. These are the people Republicans want for president and vice president.
With the massive amount of money the federal government will have to add to its deficit because of Hurricane Sandy, will Romney blame this on Obama? If elected president, will Romney place more of the financial burden for dealing with disasters onto states as part of his plan to lower the national debt?
I guess when you're a wealthy businessman who helped hide money to evade taxes, this same philosophy will work for the national debt as well. What other great business tactics has Romney got in store for the other major issues that our country faces?
Since hurricanes have previously struck the East Coast, those states will be considered as having a preexisting condition. No FEMA help for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Why should we? It's the free market.
Climate change, anyone?
Thank you, Mother Earth, for reminding the Republican Party and the climate-change naysayers that global warming is indeed occurring. Unfortunately, we need a natural disaster of this proportion to show those individuals how they have impacted our planet's climate with their refusal to clean up our air and water.