They Want Their Groove Back, Too

Shore is Open But Some Communities Remain Devastated

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

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The Associated Press, a news organization that prides itself on its scrutinizing use of language, says President Obama is “looking to get his groove back” when he arrives in Asbury Park later today.

A very interesting choice of words, don’t you think?

I spent my Memorial Day Weekend in Lavallette. A group of college friends and I do it every year. There wasn’t much to do on Saturday owing to the poor weather, so we woke up and headed over to our favorite breakfast joint renowned for making giant, deliciously-decadent “bomber” breakfast sandwiches. Unfortunately for my troupe of hungry tourists, this particular establishment was situated on the bay and it was still closed thanks to extreme Sandy flooding from last October.

Dejected but not ready to surrender, we hopped in a few cars and took a drive north through Mantoloking and Bay Head in search of an omelette and flapjacks. What we witnessed stunned my friends who weren’t from New Jersey (see more photographic evidence below the fold)…

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These formerly affluent beach communities still resembled foreign war zones or Hollywood disaster movie sets  despite the fact, as I tried to explain, that their current state actually represented a significant improvement from several months ago.

Distracted by the large number of homes without foundations, we arrived at another bay front eatery only to discover that it was still closed, too, along with several other seemingly abandoned businesses touting defiant “We’ll be back in 2013” graffiti on their boarded up doors and windows.

They obviously weren’t.

Don’t worry about me; I finally found my steak ‘n’ eggs at Dorcas of Bay Head. I’m worried about the folks for whom the Jersey Shore still isn’t open. All I’ve ever wanted to come out of this tragedy is perspective, my friends. Everyone reading this post – right, left or somewhere in between – knows why the President is coming to New Jersey today. Beset by scandals and other woes both foreign and domestic, he’s hoping to get a public opinion boost by cozying up to America’s most popular/well-known Governor and injecting himself into a place/situation capable of tugging all American’s heartstrings. All politicians do it.

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That being said, Jersey Shore residents who own the homes and businesses pictured/discussed in this post would love to get their groove back today, too. But they can’t, Save Jerseyans, and a host of federal failures are making it more difficult. We’ve been saying that from Day #1, and even a few regular Save Jersey readers accused us of naked partisanship at the time; now legions of former believers in the popular Sandy aftermath narrative are finally waking up to reality.

Frankly, my only qualm with Governor Christie’s controversial embrace of President Obama following Hurricane Sandy was how the Governor’s language in the heat of a crisis, intentionally or not, projected a positive assessment of the federal government’s response. Dan Cirucci really got this one right at the time. We also now know the federal response was severely deficient in several key ways; some of what they’ve done has been downright counterproductive (e.g. the new flood maps) and other elements of the response were sold to Congress (and voters) on the basis of misleading information (e.g. the oft-recycled myth that Sandy recovery package funds would be dispersed quickly to help the displaced, when in reality the bulk of the package involved long-term projects).

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I don’t think there was anything remotely improper about having the President visit, nor do I believe saying nice things about the President is political treason! I do, however, think elected officials do their constituents a disservice by failing to publicly critique the many shortcomings of our post-federal American system of government. The results are clear… take a ride through Mantoloking or Bay Head. Our Governor and the Trenton GOP should be making this a contrast talking point in their 2013 campaigns.

You and I can’t control their strategy, so let’s do what we can: stand by the truth and keep pushing, folks. As an eternal optimist, I’m still holding out hope that some Republicans somewhere seize upon today’s presidential visit to point that out in an articulate manner. The people still displaced from this horrible storm deserve their advocacy. We shouldn’t stop telling their story until it happens. Jersey is truly “stronger than the storm.” Groove or not, it’s high time for a federal government that is also deserving of such a lofty accolade.


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