Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mitt Romney, crimefighter

Yesterday, I wondered how Governor Mitt Romney's role in the aftermath of the floods would play. I mentioned that he was already getting some softballs from the national press and used Diane Sawyer's question about rescuing people off the roofs of homes as an example.

Guess I should have watched the clip from Good Morning America a little closer. The big reaction today has been Romney's comments on looting, which he takes some credit for fighting. From the Herald:
Gov. Mitt Romney's take-charge role in Bay State flood zones played well on national TV, but critics say the White House-seeking Republican went too far in warning about a risk of looting.

Responding to "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer's question about the need to rescue people from their homes, Romney said the state National Guard stood at the ready.

"We're continuing to be very, very careful and going through our neighborhoods, securing them, and making sure there is no looting of any kind," Romney added.

The remarks puzzled local officials who reported no incidents of looting in the Bay State, New Hampshire or Maine, and prompted experts to question if Romney was raising red flags for no reason - or for political reasons.

"By and large, (looting) is a disaster myth," said Dr. Steven Rottman, director of UCLA's Center for Public Health and Disasters. "It tends to divert resources from public safety needs."

Tobe Berkowitz, associate dean of Boston University's College of Communication, said the nationally televised remark "was unnecessary and uncalled for."

"It was a mistake at best. If it was a strategy (designed) to show the country that he's a firm law-and-order governor, then it was a stupid strategy," Berkowitz said.
Romney has been getting battered pretty good in some circles today. Universal Hub is, um, relieved: "Hoo boy, thank goodness we had brave Mitt Romney taking decisive action to stop all those looters."

Jay Fitzgerald is expecting we'll be seeing a lot of the flood in 2008: "Raging waters, National Guard troops, senior citizens being evacuated, horror and panic in the eyes of victims -- and at the center a calm and cool commander, Mitt, the only man between mayhem and order."

Howie Carr (sub. req'd) isn't worried about looting, except from the CSI Miami crowd: "Looting? Not around here, Governor, not unless the looters have got some of those airboats like they use in the Everglades."

Governor McGruff does have his defenders, however.

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