On April 20, 2010, a massive explosion at BP’s “Deepwater Horizon” site killed 11 men and injured 17 others in the Gulf of Mexico. What followed was the largest accidental marine oil spill in world history, giving rise to profound ecological challenges and an economic disaster for the Gulf States’ already fragile economy.
Objectively bad, bad stuff.
But notwithstanding all of that drama, Save Jerseyans, President Barack Obama didn’t visit the Gulf until May 2nd. Approximately two weeks later. He took his jolly good time to respond in the flesh and show his face.
His response time has improved with time. Amazingly, it took the President just two days to visit Colorado following last Friday’s tragic Aurora theater shooting where 12 people were murdered and dozens more were injured…
Two tragedies. Both resulting in significant losses of American lives. Arguably, only the former had federal or economic implications. I still won’t fault the President for serving as “Comforter-in-Chief” and visiting Aurora’s distraught populace. I’m sure the families appreciated it. What’s interesting to me is how the President seems to choose his spots very, very carefully.
Look at the electoral map and draw your own conclusions. U.S. states directly impacted by the epic Gulf Oil spill — Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida — are traditionally “red” in presidential cycles; only Florida went “blue” in ’08 and is expected to flip back in ’12. Colorado, by contrast, is already one of the most hotly contested states this time around.
The Centennial State narrowly backed G.W. Bush in ’04 but changed allegiances in ’08. Hence, it’s not very hard to understand why the President’s handlers would rush him to Colorado while having adopted a more measured approach to the deep red Gulf States.
There’s also the issue of gun control and its political grist potential for Democrats who desperately need to keep the nation’s focus on something… anything… other than the horrible economy. I’m sure you’ve heard by now from a politically charged-up Facebook friend that a United Nations small arms treaty is due for Senate consideration. I won’t indulge any Fast and Furious-esque conspiracy theories in this post.
What I will say is that it doesn’t take a Machiavellian political genius to see how Democrats could use the Aurora tragedy to resurrect gun control concerns with a key gun-sensitive demographic — married women — who have thus far been lukewarm towards the President’s reelection.
So it would seem getting the President of the United States’s attention is really a toss-up proposition, Save Jerseyans. Being from a toss-up state helps. Deep red state residents would be well-advised to not get their hopes up.