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Clarence Page: FEMA vs. 'Romnesia'

BY CLARENCE PAGE Published: November 2, 2012

“Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement to Politico. “As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA.”

Is that spin of hurricane proportions or what? The campaign's description of FEMA sounds comfortably close to what FEMA already does. Moderate Mitt seems almost to have forgotten the right-wing-sounding Mitt from the primaries, a forgetfulness that President Obama lampoons as “Romnesia.”

But it also is a description of FEMA functions that sounds uncomfortably close to the buck-passing agency that was nowhere to be seen for several days in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as thousands of homeless New Orleans residents begged for help on live television.

I don't know how Romney handled disasters during his single term as governor, but Republican Gov. Chris Christie gave high praise to President Obama's response after Hurricane Sandy. After the storm left over 2.4 million people without power in his state, Christie said on NBC's “Today Show” that he had spoken with Obama several times and the federal response “has been great.”

If Christie becomes a presidential candidate, as many people hope he will, I hope he remembers the practical lessons of governing a state in time a disaster. When people desperately need help from Washington, they don't want to hear about politics.



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