MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Both events were pulled off with calculated cynicism.
Yesterday, Romney's campaign â€“ facing the challenge of a president in command of natural disaster relief â€“ converted an Ohio political rally into a political rally disguised as providing voluntary charitable contributions to help hurricane victims on the East Coast. The problem was that collecting canned goods and other items is not what agencies such as the Red Cross want. In fact, attempting to process such relatively small donations hinders massive assistance efforts, according to non-governmental organizations.
Loading donated cans of Campbell's Soup and jars of peanuts into a rental truck makes for a nice photo-op, but it won't help any hurricane victims. Nine will get you ten that the donations will be dropped off at some pantry in Ohio, far away from the damage from Sandy.
On top of that, BuzzFeed reports that allegedly $5,000 was spent at Walmart by the Romney campaign so that Mitt could be photographed amidst an abundant supply of granola bars and diapers.
This last-minute "relief effort," of course, is consistent with the Romney/Ryan belief that individual charitable contributions can somehow take care of areas with billions of dollars in damage. Did anyone bring a house, bridge or subway to the Romney "compassion" charade? Doubt it, wouldn't fit in the rental truck.
Romney's notion of non-governmental resolution of natural disasters is as fecklessly quaint as his "horses and bayonets" notion of our military needs. Since Romney refuses to repeat his promise to dismantle FEMA since Hurricane Sandy struck, he can only offer a feeble photo showing him accepting a six pack of Gatorade. It was so Disneyesque!
The Ohio stunt provides a one-two punch of opportunistic displays of ambition disguised as compassion. Just last week Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, practically broke into a soup kitchen in Youngstown in order to get a photo of him washing pans with his wife. But don't think the Ayn Rand acolyte was going soft. It was all for show. According to US News and World Report:
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryanâ€™s visit Saturday to an Ohio food kitchen was no more than a staged photo op, fumes the charityâ€™s president.
Ryan barged into the Youngstown dining hall long after guests had been served and left, grabbed an apron and scrubbed down a few measly dishes while TV cameras and photographers snapped away, said Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, the charity that runs the soup kitchen.
"Had I been on site, he would not have been allowed in," Antal told the Daily News on Tuesday.
Natural disasters present crises that pull the nation together, which is counter to the GOP presidential campaign notion of every man and woman for him or herself.
Just as Romney's charge that Obama is responsible for a non-existent movement of 1500 Jeep manufacturing jobs to China is as fake as a three dollar bill, so is his con of acting compassionate.