The GOP's politicizing of Gustav was as inevitable as it is tasteless.
From a Politico Story, the GOP is already counting the ways this helps McCain:
Republican officials said the images from here will present a positive contrast with the celebratory Democratic convention last week in Denver. The storm could paralyze Democratic efforts to hit McCain on several fronts.
"The contrast between McCain's responsibility and the fanatical followers in the temple of the Lord Obama won't be lost on everyday husbands and wives trying to meet their own responsibilities," a Republican official said.
Yeah, why didn't Obama have a hurricane?
Drudge is also making hay out of a Michael Moore quote and a Dem official making jokes that the Hurricane is some sort of devine retrobution against Republicans. Now they can blame Democrats for politicizing it... thus absolving their own blatant attempts.
Seriously though, people who think this has any political benefit for the Democrats, I think, are deluding themselves. Instead McCain will get to avoid having to give a "big speech," something he can't do, and allow the GOP to criticize the Dems for doing one, even though "the big speech" would otherwise be a part of their own convention, Bush had his own Greek columns, and so on and so forth.
Given how the Bush administration let McCain lead on Georgia, I don't doubt that Bush would avoid the region entirely to give McCain credit for any success the admin has. And I can't imagine how the administration could fail on this one. The Bush admin's failing has always been a lack of imagination... they couldn't imagine Katrina happening -- but now that it's happened once, they know what to do... provided it hits the same city the same way -- even at the same time -- again.
The GOP apologists in the media are already setting the stage -- "redemption" for Katrina. (See AP and Politico.) Even before "redemption" happens. To avoid the Astrodome debacle, they're just not offering any public safe haven. Truly the Bush-era way to deal with a problem. The Levees may hold or not hold, it doesn't matter -- the main picture will be of McCain boldly helping somewhere, lifting some grain or something. Sarah will be hugging people. Cindy offering them a cup of joe.
All will be forgiven.
The GOP are expert at turning non-partisan tragedy into political gain. They rode 9/11 to two major victory cycles, and unless the Democrats get similarly craven and exploitive, I really fear for a third.
I don't want to be too reactionary or alarmist, but I think it was all said in the above-mentioned Politico quote:
"The contrast between McCain's responsibility and the fanatical followers in the temple of the Lord Obama won't be lost on everyday husbands and wives trying to meet their own responsibilities," a Republican official said."
That's what they're saying. What are we saying?