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Liberals to Romney: Only We Can Politicize Hurricane Sandy

Democrats, media pounce on natural disaster to score political points.

6:05 PM, Oct 30, 2012 • By ANDREW STILES
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Editor's note: We republish this Washington Free Beacon article as a public service, as the publication's servers are down due to Hurricane Sandy.

Bill Clinton at memorial service for William J. Crowe 10-31-07 071031-N-0696M-119 0Y0ZF

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said in November 2008.

Democrats and liberal pundits are following Emanuel’s advice and refusing to let Hurricane Sandy, which has left at least 40 dead, distract them from their political mission of preventing Mitt Romney from becoming president.

The storm and its aftermath, these liberals argue, illustrate the need for large government agencies funded by historically high levels of federal spending.

“A Big Storm Requires Big Government,” read the headline of a New York Times editorial posted Monday evening as the storm was wreaking havoc in the mid-Atlantic United States. 

The Times and others seized on comments Romney made during the Republican presidential primary when he said he would be open to exploring whether the role of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could be better played by state governments or private entities.

“Ideology still blinds Republicans to [FEMA’s] value,” the Times’s editorial board wrote. “Many don’t like the idea of free aid for poor people, or they think people should pay for their bad decisions, which this week includes living on the East Coast.”

FEMA, which coordinates and assists emergency response at the federal level, obligated some $5.6 billion in assistance in fiscal year 2011, according to its fiscal year 2013 budget request.

That is a rounding error in the $3.6 trillion of federal expenditures that year. Practically all the federal budget is devoted to social welfare programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other cash transfers as well as defense spending.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson followed the Times’s lead and also slammed Republicans for opposing massive federal intervention to address climate change.

Romney’s 2011 comments were “absurd,” “dangerous,” and “dishonest,” Robinson wrote in a column posted late Monday under the headline: “Romney would pass the buck on disasters.”

“I guess having to survive a few hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes on our own would certainly foster personal responsibility,” snarked the opinion writer.

Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grim was among the first to revisit Romney’s FEMA remarks in an article posted shortly before Sandy was projected to make landfall.

Others were quick to pile on.

“Does Romney want Halliburton in charge of disaster relief?” tweeted Paul Begala, a strategist for Priorities USA, the Obama-aligned super PAC that has run ads suggesting Romney was somehow responsible for a woman’s death from cancer.

“Whether it’s a hurricane or everyday life, basic question is are we all in this together or is each on his own? That’s the choice on 11/6,” opined University of California-Berkeley professor Robert Reich, who later added: “Will we comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable under President Obama, or do the exact opposite under President Romney?”

It is unclear if President Obama is campaigning on a pledge to “afflict the comfortable,” of whom many may be swing voters.

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