How was your Hurricane? Not too bad, we hope. We regret to report that rightbloggers didn’t have the best time. They were all right in the run-up to Irene, when they were in their element — that is, both spreading and suffering panic. But after a while, as the storm settled down and turned out to have caused less mayhem than had been feared, it became dismayingly clear that there was nothing in this to blame on President Obama.
Not that they let that stop them.
We had to expect, and are inclined to excuse, rightbloggers who merely stuck conservative boilerplate on disaster news reports — for example, The Lonely Conservative, which headlined a post “Saturday Evening Quick Hits – Irene Edition” and proceeded almost immediately to “Did you hear about the hit piece the New York Times put out against Rep. Darryl Issa?” We know how it is, buddy — gotta hunt where the ducks are.
Conservatives being natural fearmongers, we also had to expect rightblogger posts that attempted to rattle their readerships — or that denounced others who didn’t share their feelings of terror. (We may call this phenomenon “9/11 Syndrome.”) Our favorite in this category was a post at RedState entitled “Is The Drudge Report Low Balling Hurricane Irene?” (“If Matt Drudge wants to be a skeptic that’s his prerogative, but as well trafficked as his site is he should feel a greater sense of responsibility at the very least.”) Have You Forgotten This Coming Weekend?
All media sources, of course, had a stake in keeping their readers terrified enough to tune in for disaster news, but it seemed to us that rightbloggers went heavier on the armageddon angle than most. There were, for example, Brendan Loy’s slightly hysterical dispatches, including this one: “It’s also time for NYC’s local officials to stop pretending that a Category 1 hurricane strike is the ‘worst-case scenario’ for their city. That sort of false reassurance, masquerading as a warning, is deeply unhelpful…” Loy also denounced New York’s Mayor Bloomberg for not being pro-active enough against what turned out to be a non-disaster (“Is the mayor of New York an idiot?“).
“Been reading Tweets all morning from people up North who are whining about the inconvenience of having to prepare/change their daily routine/evacuate,” complained Sister Toldjah. This “makes my blood boil…. People laugh at us here in NC sometimes because the bread and milk and batters fly off the shelves at the first sign of a snowflake. But I personally would rather be prepared and not need things than to need things and not be prepared.” If your local stores were sold out of flashlights by Thursday, you may be sure Sister Toldjah or her generic equivalent lives in your neighborhood — her basement full of hand-cranked and battery-operated equipment and shotguns, ready for anything.
Some really went flying off the deep end. You probably saw dozens of pre-Irene checklists on the internet, but the lists made by rightbloggers always had a little something extra; at Big Government, for example, Michelle Lancaster began her list with “1. Don’t rely on FEMA. The local, state and federal government are not there to help you.” That’s getting your priorities straight! Get bottled water, but first remember to reject statism!
But the cake-taker was rightwing chiropractor Melissa Clouthier. Under the headline “PREPARE!” Clouthier advised her readers to get set not only for disaster, but also for marauding gangs of post-Irene monsters — especially in New York, because you know how those people are.
“New York is going to have some problems that New Orleans had,” warned Clouthier. “A rather land-locked populace, many of whom rely on public transportation. The time for leaving is now. You have two days. Don’t dally.”
Clouthier then advised readers in the area to stock up on several items, some of them ordinary (“extra paper goods”), some of them extraordinary — e.g., “Buy a chainsaw now. Laugh if you will, but we helped many people get out of their driveways and out of neighborhoods with our chainsaw. People were stuck.” (That’s how you spot one of those rare New York Republicans: he spends a pre-disaster weekend desperately scouring Chelsea for a chainsaw.)
Also, Clouthier said everyone should buy guns, because “people get desperate.” And New York’s post-Irene flash mob rampages proved her point!
“You’re probably thinking this is melodramatic,” cried Clouthier wildly like Kevin McCarthy at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. “Not so much. Things get primal awfully quickly. When it comes down to it, there will be a grim determination that sets in. You’ll start only seeing men at the grocery store. You’ll see panicked people pleaded with grocers for more water. You’ll wish you had prepared. You’ll feel foolish because you knew what you should do but you didn’t do it…” But by then IT WILL BE TOO LATE!
On the more theoretical but no less bizarre side, Ira Stoll speculated on the possibility of “Irene Price Gouging.” No, he wasn’t writing to denounce it, but to warn that “opportunistic politicians will soon be out denouncing price-gouging connected with Hurricane Irene…”
Stoll felt that, even if someone charged you $100, or perhaps your anal virtue, for a gallon of gas, still “this strikes me as one of those things where self-regulation works pretty well. If a retailer sets a price too high, he may not sell what he wants to sell, and he may alienate customers.” The possibility that the seller may quickly melt into the darkness and thus be unconcerned with his future in that specific market seems not to have occurred to Stoll.
“On the other hand,” Stoll added, “forcing retailers to keep prices low might just assure that scarce supplies sell out quickly to hoarders or resellers. That’s why you see subjective words such as ‘unconscionably excessive,’ ‘excessive,’ or ‘too much’ in these statutes, or in descriptions of them by politicians.” Nannies ruin everything; once upon a time you could watch a man die of thirst because he didn’t have a nickel for a drink from your water barrel, and no one would hassle you.
Of course, as in all things, Obama was blamed — but rightbloggers had trouble deciding what to blame him for. The government handling of the storm seemed to go smoothly, and the President returned from his Massachusetts vacation before the storm hit — his absence having given them a hook in recent days (“Obama Briefed on Hurricane Irene — Goes Golfing”).
By and large, they settled on free association.
Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft, for example, just ran a normal picture of Obama, which AP had captioned “President Barack Obama speaks during an update on the status of Hurricane Irene at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters in Washington,” and added, “That’s not exactly a picture of confidence, huh? Feel safe yet?”
Later Hoft posted the same photo with this headline: “Fail. Yahoo Readers Not Very Impressed With Obama’s Command Center Photo-Op.” He then reproduced six Yahoo comments critical of the President. Groundswell!
Hugh Hewitt headlined “Obama and Irene: Category Four Forces of Destruction.” “President Obama’s economic policies are to the private sector as Irene is to the East Coast, a vast swirling destructive force,” said Hewitt. He didn’t have anything like evidence for this, but he did have other interesting comparisons, e.g. “Who killed ‘the recovery?’ President Obama did, as surely as Casey Anthony killed her daughter and O.J. Simpson his wife and Ron Goldman.”
Some of this froth even spilled over onto the Vice-President — e.g., Fox News‘ report, “Biden Golfed in Hours Preceding Hurricane.” (“Asked directly whether Biden played golf on Saturday, Biden’s office would not comment to Fox News.”)
It got so bad that others besides us noticed, which raised the brethren’s hackles. Scared Monkeys offered “a rebuttal to the LEFT-WINGERS,” then explained: “This has nothing to do with GWB’s handling Katrina, it has to do with an out of touch President in Obama acting like he could not be bothered.”
Perhaps sensing this wouldn’t make the sale, Scared Monkeys added, “We already have seen how lame Obama is in handling disasters with what he did with the Gulf Oil spill. Even uber-Dem James Carville railed on Obama for his handling of the spill.” In support of this last point, Scared Monkeys linked to its own report on a time Carville criticized Obama for being too kind to conservative favorites BP.
If comparing Obama’s handling of the Deepwater Horizon spill, which mainly killed fish and other marine life, to Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina, which killed hundreds of people, seems a stretch to you, consider the approach taken by John Hinderaker of Power Line.
“I’m sure it’s a relief to everyone on the East Coast,” Hinderaker began, “to know that Obama is personally directing hurricane response efforts.” We think this was meant sarcastically, as Hinderaker followed up with this: “Never mind that he isn’t competent to organize a Little League baseball team” — Q.E.D.; there is no record of Obama organizing such a team, ever notice that? — “today’s charade obviously is a corollary of the Hurricane Katrina fiasco, in which America’s mass media committed group malpractice, somehow managing to blame the inevitable consequences of a severe weather event, magnified by incompetent local authorities in New Orleans, on the Bush administration.”
Not only was Obama defaming Bush’s excellent work on Hurricane Katrina, said Hinderaker: “Obama is setting the stage to receive praise, rather than blame, no matter what actually happens between now and when Hurricane Irene blows itself out.”
And Hinderaker was proved right: The storm was handled competently, and Obama refused to apologize to America for it!
The Last Refuge blasted a lot of people for what they considered inappropriate responses to the storm, including “the environmentalist: blame it on green house gasses” and “the liberal: demand that the government does everything and anything to help. In the days following the hurricane, expect Democrats to petition for ‘reconstruction funds.'”
Inevitably they, too, got to Obama: “Washington DC was hit by an earthquake on Tuesday and Obama responded with characteristic disinterest,” TLR claimed. “Nothing says ‘I care’ like playing a round of golf in Martha’s Vineyard four hundred miles away. He finally flew home on Friday and we can expect a moving speech early next week about America’s boldness, the courage of small children and Martin Luther King Jr. It’s like this man doesn’t want to get re-elected.” Obviously he doesn’t — people hate Martin Luther King, don’t they? At least they do around The Last Refuge.
Finally TLR railed, “It is indicative of how big the federal government has become materially and psychologically that it is expected to do something about anything that happens in the USA. Gone are the days when a hurricane would be treated as what it actually is – a terrible act of God.” Not only nannies but also modern technology and meteorology have ruined everything; once upon a time people were prostrate before such disasters; now they impudently attempt to stay alive. Whatever happened to human dignity?
Speaking of statism, we must mention Cynthia Yockey, a self-professed “Conservate Lesbian.” Yockey has in the past complained about “Maryland, my … nanny state,” and citizens who have “the idea that big government is their salvation” and are “true believers in a conformist and totalitarian mass movement dependent on a big government nanny state to take care of them.” She has also asserted, “We belong in Fiscal Conservative Land, not the Nanny State,” etc.
This weekend Yockey, the fervent anti-nanny-statist, was pissed because “yesterday the county robocalled with an announcement that a nearby high school would be the county’s emergency shelter. I went over this afternoon to check it out. The cot they are providing is too low for my father to be able to stand up from it without assistance.” We wonder why she didn’t try a free market solution first; surely she has her own emergency shelter, where she and her father can be free of the meddlesome government and their too-short cots?
While other people were laughing at Ron Paul’s ravings against FEMA and federal anti-disaster interventions, Conservative News and Views applauded “RON PAUL AGAINST DEPENDENCY,” and sought to counter Salon’s Alex Pareene, who had mocked conservatives who wanted to return to the days when “after hurricanes would strike, communities would remain devastated.” Oh yeah? said CNV, “Patrick Henry would find such talk outrageous… ‘I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!'” One is reminded of Otter’s summation in Animal House, except without the laughs.
While some Americans socialistically wait for big-gummint will-sappers to help them, said CNV, “Ron Paul calls us to change that. In his America, your local neighborhood watch would stand ready to help, without waiting for ‘first responders’ from a distance.” That’s right, neighbors — let’s create our own Coast Guard. We’ve got one paddle, who’s got another?
We’ll leave the final quote to Ace of Spades:
I’m trying to find someone with an embedable video but we’ve all seen it…a reporter standing on a wind and rain swept street or beach telling everyone else how stupid it would be for them to be out in this stuff…They can barely hold their water, but they sure can hold a grudge.
Well, you know who you have to thank for this particular genre of “reporting”? Dan Rather.