Just before midnight on Monday, as D.C. was being hounded by Sandy, I gave up on the piles of sodden, disintegrating copies of the New York Times book review that I had saved to read later (i.e. never) and instead brought out towels to soak up the water coming through my bedroom ceiling. Directly above my bed, the ceiling bulged threateningly.
As the lights flickered and the wind howled outside, I stood peering up at the bulge, my chin wobbling, pondering the options. Do I puncture the bulge to let the water out? It looks scary and big. Will the water in the ceiling affect the electrics? Will I get electrocuted? Can I even reach the ceiling? Why didn’t I buy those ladders when I had a chance? Where is that tapping noise coming from? WHY DON’T I HAVE A FUCKING BOYFRIEND TO HELP WITH THESE THINGS?
So I did what all sensible people do in an emergency: shut the bedroom door, made a cocktail and watched London 2012 highlights on YouTube.
D.C. was lucky with Sandy. Other cities – and countries – were not . Go to http://www.redcross.org/ to donate.
Today the ceiling looks like a giant Rorschach test, but I still have power and haven’t been electrocuted. My office was shut yesterday, so I watched a lot of news broadcasts about the storm. And while I may not know much about electrics and water pipes, there is one thing I have a little knowledge of: photo-opportunities.
Yesterday’s public events by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were so contrived I could barely watch through my fingers. Romney had changed a planned campaign rally into a “storm relief event”, where supporters brought canned goods and food for distribution to storm survivors. A fine gesture yes, but the Red Cross had asked for monetary or blood donations rather than foodstuffs. Romney spoke for five minutes to underline his previous leadership experience with natural disasters, and then posed for the cameras. You can see a report here. Ryan’s photo-op was much the same and, as reported here, as uncomfortable.
It’s not rocket science. Romney’s team should have cancelled the event. People would have understood, and praised him for it. His team should have briefed on how he was keeping updated on the storm, and arranged for him to give a short pooled interview during a visit to a Red Cross ops room, praising the work of the emergency services and charities. The clips would have been used in every bulletin. Instead, there was this lovely photograph:
It is hard in opposition, and especially during a campaign, to maintain positive exposure when the news agenda has literally been blown off course. With six days to go until the election it must be frustrating to lose momentum, but you gain more respect if you don’t take the piss. People aren’t stupid.
I have wondered for a while about the advice that Romney is getting from his team. A good example is the line he is pushing in ad campaigns featuring General Motors and Chrysler. Both companies have been scathing in their response to Romney claims that they are sending American jobs abroad. I get that Romney is trying to tarnish Obama’s auto bailout, but it is pretty embarrassing to have the companies themselves call him out for fibbing, never mind the shoddy attempt to scare thousands of workers into voting for him.
‘A lie told often enough becomes the truth’ is probably not the best campaign strategy, but desperate times call for desperate measures/photo-calls/adverts ….