October 26, 2012
When you're president of the United States, even if you're in the midst of a heated reelection campaign (come to think about it, especially if you are), you can't afford to leave people with the impression you're out of touch when a potentially catastrophic natural disaster is about to unfold.
That's why President Obama interrupted his seemingly nonstop tour of swing states today for a meeting at the White House with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb, and Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan. Obama got an update on preparations for Hurricane Sandy and the impending "Frankenstorm" that could hit the East Coast when it comes ashore.
The White House made sure to distribute the photo above of the meeting, and to issue a statement noting that the president had "directed Administrator Fugate to ensure that all available federal resources are being brought to bear to support state and local responders in potentially affected areas along the eastern seaboard as they prepare for the severe weather."
Here's my question: Has a president ever directed that only part of available federal resources be used in a disaster response effort? It's certainly not the first time Obama has gone all in: As recently as last month, he ordered FEMA to bring "all available resources to bear to support our response and recovery efforts" in response to Hurricane Isaac. And even when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, soon-to-be-ousted FEMA Director Mike Brown declared that his agency was "coordinating the mobilization of all available federal resources to help residents who may be in the path of this dangerous storm."
In a post-Katrina world, did Fugate really need to await an order for Obama to ensure that FEMA and other agencies didn't decide to just leave some of the available resources on the sidelines as a major storm unfolded?
October 26, 2012