The Thread Needler

Mitt Romney’s Absurd “Hurricane Relief Event”

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I can’t get over the cynicism and absurdity of the Romney campaign vis-à-vis its Ohio “hurricane relief” event.

The above image was taken from this post on Americablog, which quotes the Red Cross’ note of “appreciation” for the Romney campaign’s “support” (a note that is unmistakably passive-aggressive).

The American Red Cross appreciates the support from the Romney campaign and is working with the campaign to process this donation of supplies,” the statement read. “We are grateful that both the Obama and Romney campaigns have also encouraged the public to send financial donations to the Red Cross. We encourage individuals who want to help to consider making a financial donation or making an appointment to give blood.

John Aravosis’ interpretation:

The Red Cross outright told anyone else doing what Romney did today, to collect financial donations or blood – not supplies. It was a subtle rebuke to the Romney campaign, and an effort by the Red Cross to undo the damage Romney has already done in sending the message to the American people that the Red Cross needs us to donate food, when they don’t, and it will actually hurt their relief efforts by diverting necessary manpower.

To Romney’s credit, he nixed his normal stump speech at the “recovery event.” Instead he spewed this Leave-It-To-Beaver bullshit. (Bold & italics mine)

Romney kept his speech brief, expressing concern for the victims of the storm, while trying to keep the mood of the event upbeat. Standing on a small platform, he recalled a time in high school when he and his classmates were charged with cleaning up a football field covered in garbage.

“The person who was responsible for organizing the effort said, just line up along the yard lines,” the candidate said. “You go between the goal line and the 10-yard line. And the next person, between 10 and 20, and then just walk through and do your lane. And if everybody cleans their line, why, we’ll be able to get the job done.”

“And so today,” he went on. “We are cleaning one lane, if you will.”

No, I won’t.

A bunch of prep-school kids cleaning garbage off a football field is in no way similar to dozens of states recovering from a catastrophic storm.

(Incidentally, a football field is 100 yards; cleaning one ten-yard “lane” constitutes 10% of the total effort of football field “recovery”; whereas Romney’s hurricane-recovery-bullshit-event contributed exactly nothing to hurricane recovery.)

But at least his supporters felt nice.

It gets worse. Based on one account, the logistics of the event – planned and executed by the Romney campaign – were a microcosm of the absurd futility of charity in general.

As supporters lined up to greet the candidate, a young volunteer in a Romney/Ryan t-shirt stood near the tables, his hands cupped around his mouth, shouting, “You need a donation to get in line!”

Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, “What if we dropped off our donations up front?”

The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. “Just grab something,” he said.

Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their “donations” to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest “Thank you.”

This is charity as repetitive motion, with no regard for effectiveness. It’s also the model by which Romney would govern: Disperse power to individuals and corporations, with the insincere expectation that they will voluntarily solve the nation’s problems (they won’t).

Case-in-point: Romney wants to slash FEMA funding and privatize disaster recovery. Then, when disaster strikes, rather than contributing tax dollars to the expensive task of recovery, individuals like himself and corporations like Bain Capital will be free to engage in pointless, self-gratifying cheerleading, while millions suffer.

Asked specifically about FEMA funding last Spring, here’s what Romney said:

“Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction,” he said. “And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.”

Yesterday, Romney passed up the opportunity to defend or disavow these views.

TV pool asked Romney at least five times whether he would eliminate FEMA as president/what he would do with FEMA. He ignored the qs but they are audible on cam. The music stopped at points and the qs would have been audible to him.

Until he says otherwise, it’s fair to assume that Romney still supports privatizing FEMA. That’s his philosophy. Next Tuesday, let’s use our votes send the message that it’s not our philosophy.

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