(8:30PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
Hooray for us Iowans! Our long regional nightmare is over!
President Bush visited Cedar Rapids and Iowa City today to personally vanquish the Godless floods that have caused so much damage over the last two weeks. And John McCain visited Columbus Junction, IA, to vanquish things a few miles downstream from the President. They shrewdly made separate trips so as to maximize the disruption to local recovery efforts.
(the President recoils in horror as he encounters an average Iowan)
President Bush began with a helicopter tour over the the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City areas, damaged by flooding from the Cedar and Iowa Rivers. He then made a few stops on the ground in Iowa City, visiting a flooded construction site, a Red Cross temporary shelter, and a flooded residential neighborhood.
The President addressed some of the flood-weary residents of Iowa City in his typical Texas Hold ‘Em style:
“…sometimes you are dealt a hand you don’t really want,” he continued. “It’s not a question whether you’re going to play it. The question is, how are you going to play it. I’m confident the people of Iowa will play it well.”
I think this means we’re supposed to go shopping to fight the terrorists (and the floods), but I’m not sure. Or maybe we’re supposed to go to a casino to fight the terrorists. If anyone can explain it to me I would greatly appreciate it.
My brother works on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. He has only one open street to get to the campus. That street was closed for the presidential motorcade, and the whole town came to a stop during Bush’s visit. Traffic is one of the many problems facing Cedar Rapids and Iowa City residents as many streets and especially bridges remain closed by floodwaters.
FEMA Administrator David Paulison accompanied the President. Luckily it appears that the President followed Republican Senator Chuck Grassley’s advice:
Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa says he has one piece of wisdom for President Bush when he pays a call today on saturated Iowa.
“My advice to him is don’t say, ‘You’re doing a good job, Brownie’…”
Bush didn’t make any similar statements about Paulison. So far there have not been widespread complaints about FEMA or the response of state and local governments. It’s too early to make a judgement on the government’s response. Big questions remain about permanent shelter for the homeless, recovery loans for businesses, clean-up costs, levee repairs, bridge repairs, etc.
You’ll be glad to know that some Cedar Rapids residents are getting their sense of humor back. One comment left at the linked story above referenced Bush’s strategery in dealing with the Cedar River:
Bush would not declare war on the Cedar. He would attack the Upper Iowa River instead and then occupy it for 6 years.
The editors, however, have not regained their sense of humor. This comment was deleted pretty quickly.
(Senator Harkin, Mayor Bailey, and Governor Culver try to maneuver the President toward microphone cables next to standing water)
Senator McCain visited Columbus Junction, IA to view flood damage there. Don’t bother clicking on the link — the article has nothing interesting about McCain’s visit. Apparently nothing presidential happened there. Columbus Junction only has about 1900 people. It did sustain a lot of damage because it lies at the junction of the Cedar and Iowa Rivers. But it’s an odd choice for a place to visit, with such obvious places as Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Iowa City, and Burlington that would reach more victims. It seems like McCain went to great pains to avoid running into President Bush today. Maybe he’s smarter than I thought . . . then again, maybe not.
From what I heard around my state today, Iowans were pretty indifferent to the Bush and McCain visits:
“It’s just another photo op to them.”
“It’s something all politicians do.”
“I hope they don’t get in the way.”
I doubt there is any chance that seeing the damage first-hand will help Bush do the right thing when it comes to relief funding. He hasn’t shown any interest in domestic issues so far — why would he start now? McCain has a history of ignoring Iowa, having skipped the 2000 Iowa caucus and only making a few token appearances for the 2008 caucus. I don’t see today’s quick, anonymous stop helping his stature among Iowans.
Thanks for stopping by fellas . . . now just stay out of our way, OK?
UPDATE: Thanks to On The Bus for posting this link: McCain Ignored Request to Cancel Iowa Visit. Governor Chet Culver asked McCain to cancel his visit so as to not divert state resources from flood relief efforts. McCain mavericked his way here anyway.
And this morning’s Des Moines Register points out that McCain opposed last year’s Water Resources Act, which included $6.9 million for levee work in Des Moines, specifically in the Birdland district where a levee broke last week. The bill passed but Bush vetoed it. Thanks again, George and John, for your sincere dedication to Iowans’ well-being.