I know this is grim especially if this is Katrina II, but is it possible that the response to Gustav that may hit New Orleans this week could be a defining moment in the Presidential election? Apparently George Bush has canceled his trip to the Republican convention. At what point does the convention get canceled? Here are a few scenarios:
- Gustav misses a major center or fails to, say, cause major damage even with a direct NOLA strike: no issue and everyone sighs in relief.
- Gustav causes levee breach, flooding but no huge losses and convention continues: response has to be perfect but that may only mean reduction in presence of convention which, given the Palin announcement, may be fine with McCain – the opportunity to avoid association with the party may help.
- Gustav causes levee breach, flooding but no huge losses and convention canceled mid-week: this is a tricky one as there could be over reaction. Tension over the idea that there was nothing the convention attendees could do anyway.
- Gustav causes levee breach, flooding and things get really serious: Can the convention continue? And any peep by anyone including the Democrats becomes a huge negative. The balance of the election campaign is entirely taken up with the response. Confusion as the three leader situation – Bush, McCain, Obama – leads to an expectation that each of the three lead…somehow.
Any other possibilities? It is easy to imagine how to botch things but what is the response that a candidate can make to a crisis that honestly elevates their esteem in the public mind? Ever since Hurricane Juan hit Halifax I have been conscious of that late summer warm shore water pop a storm can get. Usually, the worst of consequences means that nothing else really matters – except maybe a Presidential election.