As Hurricane Gustav draws a bead on the Gulf Coast, Barack Obama is offering his assistance.
First, the Democratic presidential nominee decided against an early trip to areas that will be affected by the storm. In our estimate, that is the correct choice. A political swing through New Orleans (at this point) would be unseemly, and divert attention away from on-going preparations.
Senator Obama has also offered to activate his e-mail list and solicit donations from campaign contributors. Again, we can't disagree with that choice, although a comparison of donations should be interesting. Studies have shown that liberals give less than conservatives, so we wonder how Obama's supporters would actually donate.
The candidate also suggested that he could mobilize "thousands" of volunteers to "travel down there if it becomes necessary." That strikes us as a bad and potentially dangerous idea; responding to a disaster is a job for professionals, and plenty of civilian and military experts have been mobilized for this operation. We're not sure what the Obama volunteers could contribute, other than scoring a few political points.
Senator Obama refused to directly criticize John McCain's visit to Mississippi today but he did take an indirect swipe, wondering if "security requirements" pull resources away from the local mission.
For the record, Senator McCain and his running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin paid a brief visit to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency command post near Jackson, at the invitation of Haley Barbour. It's difficult to see how their stopover might have impeded operations at the command center, or the evacuation of residents from coastal regions.
At one point today, Mr. Obama also expressed hope that evacuation buses would arrive "before the storm," and not "after," as they did during Katrina. Apparently, someone forgot to tell the Oracle of Invesco Field that the overland evacuation had already been underway for more than 24 hours, and the last trains and buses for points north left New Orleans at mid-afternoon.
Send your money, Senator Obama, but hold off on those volunteers, and don't worry about the buses. The adults are in charge and doing just fine, thank you.