21 May 2013

Stormy Politics

Shortly after a deadly tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma which has killed at least 51 people, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) ranted for 15 minutes against Republicans in Tornado Alley for denying the theory of anthropogenic global warming.  Whitehouse raved:

Why do you care? Why do you, Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, care if we Republicans run off the climate cliff like a bunch of proverbial lemmings and disgrace ourselves? I’ll tell you why. We’re stuck in this together. We are stuck in this together. When cyclones tear up Oklahoma and hurricanes swamp Alabama and wildfires scorch Texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover. And the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn’t just hit Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas. It hits Rhode Island with floods and storms. It hits Oregon with acidified seas, it hits Montana with dying forests. So, like it or not, we’re in this together.

To be fair, Climate Change has long been one of  Whitehouse’s pet policies.   But politicizing a natural disaster of this magnitude before recovery efforts even began was callous and unstatesmanlike. 

But Whitehouse’s rant may have been a barometer for a tempest of progressive politicos.  Social media strings questioned how conservative storm victims could be helped by what was characterized as unconstitutional FEMA assistance.  The comment seemed to have keyed on former Rep. Ron Paul’s critique of FEMA.  Of course, Rep. Paul was a libertarian more than a conservative and he argued that FEMA does more harm than good rather than the constitutionality of the agency.  But what do facts matter for a partisan progressive attack?

Later comments mocked the self-reliant instincts of flyover country folk for needing FEMA, as they should have had insurance.  The money line was “[It] certainly feels like conservatives believe Liberals are a bunch of tax dodging moochers, living off the government teat. who want to take their money, guns and behymens (sic).”

In the Age of Obama, politicizing tragedy is nothing new.  Families of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings were flown to the District of Calamity (sic) on Air Force One and paraded by the Obama White House before Congress to lobby for federal gun control, when the restrictions would do nothing to address what caused their loss.  And some political observers that Superstorm Sandy may have turned the tide in the 2012 election for President Obama.

One would hope that these piquant quips about natural disasters like the Moore OK F4 tornado  are isolated examples of liberal lunacy.  But as Glenn Beck sprang into action after the cyclone hit, corralling two tractor trailers with emergency supplies for the victims of Moore, OK, he was amazed at the hate which this storm brewed.  Beck noted that Twitter messages he saw spoke of God punishing evil Red Staters.  So this bilious progressive temperament from the fever swap seems widespread.

It makes me regret thinking of those on the other end of the ideological spectrum as “Bleeding Heart Liberals”.   Such cruel comments make me question which organ should be substituted as an appropriate descriptor.  

Michael Reagan sensed the stormy political atmosphere when he said:  

What will speak louder than words are actions. 

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