Natural disasters can be horrific and Australians have suffered our fair share over the years. Australians generally have a big heart when it comes to large scale calamities and are often the first to reach into their pockets following disasters locally and around the world.

Howard and Bligh handled catastrophes with aplomb. Whether Obama will might save him

However the cold political reality is that a hurricane like the one battering the US East Coast is often the saviour political operators within the ranks of the incumbent party secretly hope for.

It’s not some cynical commenter’s view but rather a historical political fact. Times of civil upheaval on a local, national and often global level generally favour the incumbent.

In 2011 Cyclone Yasi saw Labor Premier Anna Bligh, a leader who had been on the nose for months, leap forward in the polls to become more than competitive relative to the LNP.

Ten years earlier, Prime Minister Howard was making a slow and steady comeback having lost the safe Queensland seat of Ryan in a March by-election, then clawing back support to retain the Victorian marginal seat of Aston in July.

But the terrible events of 2001 saw the Coalition surge forward in the polls and comfortably win the election in November.

In the same year, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was begged by his supporters and large sections of the media to put his hat in the ring to stand for President after the way he rallied New Yorkers following the terrorist attacks.

During acts of god or acute acts of hostility by enemies of the state, constituents look to those in authority to provide assistance, information and comfort.  Having no actual authority, those in opposition tend to be squeezed out of the public’s field of vision.

For the incumbent it’s an opportunity to meet the voting public’s expectation by displaying forthright leadership in a tough situation.

Anna Bligh and John Howard both stepped up to the plate, took strong positions in each of the difficult situations they faced and found favour in the mind of constituents.

It’s this political reality that will likely see US President Obama safely walk across the line next Tuesday where previously he may have lost or only won by the skin of his teeth. 

Following the three candidate debates Romney had made significant ground on Obama, with the national polls now placing each man on 49%.

The new reality is that Romney will receive little relative media exposure during the storm and in the immediate aftermath. Of course he’ll try to spend time on the ground, encouraging emergency workers and embracing those who have lost everything.

However it’s the President who will declare areas like New Jersey and Manhattan ‘disaster zones’ and commit billions of dollars to the rescue, recovery and rebuilding of the East Coast. That’s what the electronic media will blanket their broadcasts with and that’s what voters will see and hear; a President who stood by them during a tough time. 

There is a risk for President Obama. Fail the leadership test in this sort of situation and the public will switch their support in droves. George W. Bush flying over New Orleans following cyclone Katrina rather than getting down on the ground was not a good look and he paid the electoral price.

Obama’s minders will well remember that. He won’t make the same mistake.

Of course President Obama has played a straight bat declaring that he’s not interested in voter reaction but more concerned about his fellow Americans in the danger zone. Love or hate his political views, Obama seems like a man who genuinely means what he says in this situation. 

However the faceless political apparatchiks and seasoned campaign veterans working on the Obama campaign will likely be thanking the political gods for such a well-timed circuit breaker.

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST.

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96 comments

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    • Tell It Like It Is says:

      06:39am | 31/10/12

      I have a feeling that the media might have been primed By Obama and co. to exploit the lead-up to this Frankenstorm ‘to the max’. Therefore,  if there was any opportunity at all, apart from the usual pronouncements and comments by a national leader in such times, then he could step into the SAVIOUR role.  Then it would be the ‘perfect storm’ for him.

    • Nathan says:

      06:50am | 31/10/12

      oh really would that be the American media that is dominated by the right that is now trying to help Obama? Please.

    • Gregg says:

      07:06am | 31/10/12

      I take it that any barracking for Barack has been swept aside well before any storm!

    • TracyH says:

      07:26am | 31/10/12

      It’s been my understanding from various news sources that this is a different matter ...too close to election time, and affecting eary voting in mainly democrat locations, therefore being a didadvantage for Obama. And besides…iIdoubt any media would need ‘priming’ during such a devestating natural disaster.

    • Mr. Jordon says:

      07:36am | 31/10/12

      I fail to see how Obama could prime Fox News?

    • DJ says:

      07:55am | 31/10/12

      don’t worry Fox will counter it for those that want to hearthat version - you only have to look at their Benghazi coverage for that

    • Cairns Rebecca says:

      08:20am | 31/10/12

      So early and we already have a winner for ‘Wingnut Conspiracy of the Day’!

    • andye says:

      08:20am | 31/10/12

      @Tell It Like It Is - “the media might have been primed By Obama and co.”

      also, Obama might have made Sandy happen by sacrificing a newborn while performing an ancient raindance.

    • marley says:

      08:57am | 31/10/12

      The American media is not a homogenous beast.  Fox is right wing, the mainstream commercial channels are fairly centrist, some of the major dailies are pro-Democrat, others pro-Republican.  I personally doubt that Fox has the influence attributed to it, because the only people that watch it are those who already agree with it (a bit like Alan Jones) - it isn’t going to convince too many people of a more liberal persuasion, any more than the New York Times is going to convince a died-in-the-wool Republican.

    • DJ says:

      09:27am | 31/10/12

      there in lies the problem @marley, you can get “right wing news” and “left wing news” these days, where to go for balancd coverage? Personally appreciate Megalogenis and Crabb for their ban on poll talk - makes their articles much more intereting and informative

    • Joe says:

      09:32am | 31/10/12

      For sure Howard showed his leadership by following Bush to attack Iraq.
      Not much brain there just mushed potatoes.

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      11:08am | 31/10/12

      It’s amazing how often Fox News is brought up.

      Some people carry on as if Fox News is the be-all-and-end-all of American media.  It’s not.

      It’s influential, yes, but then so are many other media outlets (most notably NYT).  And its base politicking and divisiveness is easily matched by the likes of Huffington Post.

      Most people who rabbit on about Fox News seem to be engaged in a kind of groupthink. They need a team to boost, and villains to vilify.  So they pick their heroes (Obama being this year’s flavour) and their evil-doers, and go to extremes in their arguments.

      Reality check:  Obama isn’t a god, Fox News isn’t the font of all evil, and regardless of what happens in the US elections, little will change for Australians.  In a global context, both major US parties are actually very similar to each other, and most of the arguments are about relative details.

      But, haters really are going to hate.  You have the Birthers on the Right, and the Daily Kos types on the Left.  And despite having more in common than they have differences, they somehow manage to despise each other.

      How about we try NOT to get infected with American style political partisanship?

    • Mr. Jordon says:

      12:33pm | 31/10/12

      lower_case_andrew says: 11:08am | 31/10/12

      Mr post will make more sense to you if you read it in the context of what I was responding to. That is response to Tell It Like It Is says: 06:39am | 31/10/12, post.

    • Ann & Tom says:

      12:47pm | 31/10/12

      Who had this great idea to put a picture of coward between two leaders?

    • Cairns Rebecca says:

      01:14pm | 31/10/12

      That’s not a coward, that’s a war criminal!

    • Gregg says:

      07:04am | 31/10/12

      ” During acts of god or acute acts of hostility by enemies of the state, constituents look to those in authority to provide assistance, information and comfort.  Having no actual authority, those in opposition tend to be squeezed out of the public’s field of vision.

      For the incumbent it’s an opportunity to meet the voting public’s expectation by displaying forthright leadership in a tough situation. “

      It may not be quite as straightforward as that for some and in my case I usually see involvement by political leaders as being nothing more than a waste of resources for them to gain exposure.
      A country would be served far better by a politician to leave emergency work and recovery actions to those who have those roles and to best support action behind the scenes along with other politicians and bureaucrats to ensure the smoothest flow of resources necessary.

      Romney may have done some foot blasting previously with apparently a reported declaration that the feds should not be funding recoveries and that it ought to be up to individual states and that stance may come back to bite him.

    • Pedro says:

      02:02pm | 31/10/12

      I am still disappointed that in 2001-02, Kim Beazley was so gutless and backed Howard’s decisions to got to war. History would have judged him more kindly and perhaps shown Howard up for the rat that he was and is. The ICB knew this at least.
      Still big Kim has a nice job in the USA. He’s had a great professional life gorging himself on the public tit. Another one like Downer whonever had a real job - just followed the old man into politics.
      I am no-partisan in my abuse of useless poiticians.
      Senator Nick X for President.

    • Nigel says:

      07:06am | 31/10/12

      Anna Bligh did a wonderful job with the Qld floods and cyclone and then was dumped by the public voters. What does this say for Obama’s chances?

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      08:46am | 31/10/12

      It says good things about voters.

      It means that voters looked beyond the temporary, and based their voting decision on history, form and overall results.  Not just the latest media headlines.

      Bligh was a good leader in a storm, but a leader of a poor government. Voters responded.

    • morrgo says:

      08:46am | 31/10/12

      What exactly did Ms Bligh DO?  That is, other than acting as a 24/7 spokesperson for Emergency Services, getting emotional and saying how tough Queenslanders were?

      Also consider her venal performance leading up to and during the election campaign, topping off her government’s track record, and you have your explanation.

    • Lenny says:

      08:56am | 31/10/12

      She was dumped 13 months later. Obama’s election is in 2 weeks.

    • TheRealDave says:

      10:22am | 31/10/12

      Qld Labor were stupid for not having the election in the aftermath of the floods. She was up agains tthat clown Langbroek (whos own sister called him a moron on national tv) and she was riding high in popularity straight after.

      If they did we would not have Campbell Newman and the LNP in George street…and about 20 000 people would still have jobs wink

    • Rose says:

      11:12am | 31/10/12

      morrgo, Bligh was exceptional during the QLD disasters, how her Premiership was outside of that went I don’t really know, it’s QLD and I’ve never been that interested in their day to day politics, not unless it somehow ends up affecting me (selfish maybe, but meh!!).
      During the disasters, Bligh ensured that she was there, she provided information when needed, she provided a focal point for people and she rallied the troops. She often looked like crap when she was doing all that, indicating that she was not being an opportunist pretty face, she was on the job 24/7 throughout the crisis. She was exhausted, calm and rational the whole way through, at least in the coverage I saw.  Ultimately, when QLD needed their Premier to be a leader, she stepped up to the plate. It was, at least from where I was sitting, a bloody good effort!

    • Yvonne says:

      11:19am | 31/10/12

      Indeed she did and in so doing she put Gillard shame. But that does not excuse the fact she was a lousy Premier in all other areas. Obama’s changes, hopefully zero !

    • Gregg says:

      12:17pm | 31/10/12

      ” What does this say for Obama’s chances? “
      He had his own coin, one side saying you know Romney has already talked about the states looking after themselves besides him when it comes to Ohio.
      Flip, come on in Sandy you bloody beauty and now he’ll be blasted aside while I’m front and center.

    • nihonin says:

      04:20pm | 31/10/12

      Yes Rose, we all should have voted for Anna’s Labor, based on news reader style updates re the emergency services, she was issuing.  Other than that, she pretty much did what most other Premiers would have done anyway.  I wouldn’t have voted for her party on her performance during that isolated incident, when compared to her overall time as Premier.

    • Mattb says:

      07:13am | 31/10/12

      bet theres a million journalists out there today milking this storm for all its worth, rubbing their hands together at all the potential coverage it will create, intruding into peoples lives when they are there most vulnerable, twisting the story to suit their own narrative, scrambling to see who can grab the best “survivor story” or shoving cameras in peoples faces in the hope of landing the “money shot”. While these parasites are all standing around delivering ‘the news’ the police, emergency service workers and the general public are getting down and doing the real work, cleaning up and helping those in need.

      it always amazes me when a journalist calls a politician out for opportunism.
      pot. meet. kettle.

    • Craig says:

      07:20am | 31/10/12

      Disaster did not save Bligh, though it certainly helped Howard & Thatcher.

      I think there is some truth that the lack of a ‘cooling off’ period following this disaster will favour Obama as an incumbent, though both sides will do whatever they can to exploit this in their favour (noting that ‘Tell it’ presented a very one-eyed view of how political parties exploit adversity - they ALL do it).

      There is, however, also more risk for Obama than Romney as well. A perceived poor response by agencies (outside Obama’s immediate control), a few choice images of public servants behaving badly and suddenly Romney will be able to make hay at the expense of an incumbent who has to manage the entire machine of state, not simply his campaign team.

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      08:53am | 31/10/12

      @Craig

      “Disaster did not save Bligh, though it certainly helped Howard & Thatcher.”

      The only way a disaster can help politicians is if those politicians are capable.  Howard and Thatcher were demonstrably capable leaders, and showed it through their actions.

      Whereas Bush showed that he and his administration were ill-prepared to handle Katrina on the ground, and just as importantly, ill-prepared to handle the (very effective) campaign against him from his political opponents. And make no mistake: much of what we remember of Katrina is history manufactured by the left of American politics. They were extremely successful in dictating the terms of the debate, to the point where Katrina became Bush’s disaster.

      Bligh showed that she was capable in a crisis.  But her government was not a competent one, and voters rewarded them accordingly.

    • JoniM says:

      10:40am | 31/10/12

      The issue here is that the Presidential poll is only a week away !
      Obama can’t possibly stuff up a monopoly on media coverage and playing Commander In Chief for the full week before the polls ! Obama should get down on his knees and give thanks !
      The only real thing that this event proves is that God is definitely a Baptist and not a Mormon !

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      10:59am | 31/10/12

      @JoniM

      “The only real thing that this event proves is that God is definitely a Baptist and not a Mormon !”

      If so, one presumes those killed in the storm were all Mormons. 

      God’s a fickle bugger, eh?

    • Rose says:

      11:34am | 31/10/12

      JoniM, he could fly over it, not letting his feet hit the affected ground, that would pretty much be stuffing it up. He could also be incredibly slow at showing some Presidential leadership in dealing with the situation, that would also be considered stuffing it up.
      They were the two key and immediate ways that Bush stuffed up after Katrina!

    • JoniM says:

      11:42am | 31/10/12

      @ lower_case-_andrew

      Not necessarily !
      After all, “collateral damage” is such a common term used in Heaven these days !

    • JoniM says:

      12:24pm | 31/10/12

      @ Rose

      “They were the two key and immediate ways that Bush stuffed up after Katrina!

      The difference here is that Obama only has to last out a week of spin and rhetoric, with no one daring to politicise the issue before the polls.
      Piece of cake for the master of the telepromter !
      Bush had months of attacks because New Orleans remained a swamp for that long !

    • Steve of QBN says:

      12:41pm | 31/10/12

      @Rose, Bush’s real failure with Katrina was the dismantling of FEMA.  Clinton established FEMA after the Los Angels earthquakes when it became apparent that local emergency forces become overwhelmed in large scale emergencies.  Clinton put in place a department that was wholly Federally funded and supplied to be a fire brigade, able to move at a moments notice when such disasters come around.  Then Bush got elected.  He took FEMA, stripped it of it’s assets, stripped it of it’s powers and stripped it of it’s people and then lumped it under Homeland Security.  After all, it had not been used in 10 years right?  What could go wrong????  Katrina went wrong.  The one department Bush had at the start of his Presidency that could have and would have made a difference had been removed from play by his own hand.  After that, it was all down hill.

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      12:53pm | 31/10/12

      @Rose

      OTOH, such was (and is) the divisive, partisan nature of American politics that it wouldn’t really have mattered much what Bush did.

      He could have lived in a tent for a week outside of New Orleans, subsisting on CARE packages, and his political opponents would still have accused him of not paying due care to Iraq.  Or not having enough black people in his tent with him.  Or frittering away taxpayer’s dollars on pointless photo-op exercises.

      We live in a world where a US President can be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in his first year of his first term, for not actually doing anything.  In that kind of politicised world, Bush was never going to win friends from a disaster in an overwhelmingly black, overwhelmingly Democrat-voting city like New Orleans.

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      12:59pm | 31/10/12

      @DJ

      “Washington Post prints renowned right wing commentator Charles Krauthammer doesn’t it?”

      And the ABC’s Insiders program used to have Andrew Bolt on as its sole, token weekly right-winger. (He did the weekly shuffle with the other tokens: Gerard Henderson, Piers Akerman.  Always outnumbered 3 to 1 by non-conservative voices, and always hosted by ex-ALP PR man Barrie Cassidy.)

      So does that make the ABC a bastion of conservative thought?

      The Washington Post, along with the NYT is well known as an (American) liberal newspaper.  These things are all relative, of course; both newspapers are to the right of Huffington, but they are both socially liberal, and are generally antagonistic towards GOP politics and identities, and have traditionally provided support to Democratic candidates and policies.

      That’s on the record: even a brief scan of both paper’s editorials and op-eds and columns over the years will show which side of the American political fence they occupy.

    • Rose says:

      02:34pm | 31/10/12

      Steve, you are right, but in the short term, his immediate response was one which showed him to be uncaring. People often forgive policy failure (largely because most don’t stop and consider long and short term direct and indirect consequences of policy, they go by the headlines…and because the system does in fact run on bullshit) but rarely do people forget what they consider to be ingrained character flaws, particularly when they are shown up at such a time as during a disaster.
      lca…....Australia is probably as partisan, if not more so, as the USA, right now most LNP supporters would rather choke than offer a kind word to the Labor, and vice versa. As for the media, I’m not sure even the most supportive of papers could sugarcoat some of Bush’s major stuff-ups, including Katrina and “Mission Accomplished”.....the man is an intellectual lightweight to be sure!
      As for Obama’s Nobel Prize, I’m not sure how they sort those things out, but it’s obviously not just according to those who are worthy, different agendas obviously carry a lot of weight. Obama’s I’d probably consider as an ‘Encouragement Award”, to give him some sort of a kickstart so he had the oomph to sort out Bush’s stuff ups!

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      03:42pm | 31/10/12

      @Rose

      “Australia is probably as partisan, if not more so, as the USA,”

      I really have to disagree with this.

      Although we have our loudmouths here (Alan Jones, Cory Bernadi, Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan, CFMEU, Alan Bolt, GetUp! etc.), the depth and breadth of the divisiveness in America is quite profound, and sad.

      Most of our political differences are quite trivial: union power this, sexism that, electoral bribe A vs electoral bribe B,

      But, too many Australians are copying the partisanship of the Americans. I see many Aussies referencing Fox News as if it somehow relevant to us, or somehow representative of our media. Or barracking for Obama or Romney as if the choice of candidate has any implications for us. (Pro-tip: neither gives a stuff about us except to the extent that we can provide a Pacific base for them.)

      Too many people are investing themselves in personality politics: they barrack for politician A, but hate/despise/loathe politician B.  Why? Because those politicians represent the team they’re against.

      Got a rational, considered political opinion?  Too bad. It’s drowned out by the Carbon Tax catastrophists on the right, and the gender warriors and thought police on the left.

      It’s no longer enough to have a political view, people also feel the need to hate those with differing views; to smear all dissenting views, to dumb down the conversation into stupid slogans.

    • Louise says:

      05:15pm | 31/10/12

      Oh no, lower_case_andrew, now I have to disagree with you - though you’re still so nice and sensible it’s impossible to hate you for it wink

      i agree with you re the sensible majority of voters in Australia tending towards the centre but there are still quite definite sides; as Rose says, it is quite partisan, for the very reasons (causes) you cite - warmism v scepticism; acceptability of union corruption v not; “feminism” v a female spectrum etc.

      Perhaps because the Left has been so successful in infiltrating academia, government, popular culture etc., it just isn’t as obvious that people still legitimately hold quite different beliefs - compared with say, the US and Europe, where they are arguably more comfortable with a genuine contest of ideas without resorting to gutter tactics.

      Conservative voices are too readily dismissed as “shock-jock” material.  On that note, I have to disagree with a couple of your choices of “loudmouth”: I don’t think I’ve ever heard Cory Bernardi’s voice, and your namesake Andrew Bolt comes across as a gentleman. Even Wayne Swan I wouldn’t call a “loudmouth” as such.  The PM, sadly yes, no argument from me on that one. (Remember she once claimed to have been a “shy girl”? Hard to imagine.) Very disappointing.

    • embracedmadness says:

      07:52am | 31/10/12

      I’m sure the “fair and balanced” folk at Fox News will find a way to spin this negatively for Obama.

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      09:43am | 31/10/12

      Don’t worry.  They are more than “balanced” by the fine folk over at CBS, CNN, NBC, ABC, Washington Post, New York Times and a hundred other left-leaning or outright-left newspapers, blogs, websites.

      The US has no shortage of polarised, polarising cheerleaders for both left and right.

      However, it’s interesting that Fox is always brought up.  And that’s because most people can’t name many other ardently right-wing broadcasters or publishers. When pressed, they have to do a google search.

      So the conversation keeps getting dumbed down to “Fox News says this” and “Fox News says that”, as if Fox News was the only news outlet around.

    • andye says:

      09:55am | 31/10/12

      @lower_case_andrew - “However, it’s interesting that Fox is always brought up.  And that’s because most people can’t name many other ardently right-wing broadcasters or publishers.”

      Because FOX News is a beast. It is bigger and far more dominant than any of the other examples shown. They utterly dominate conservative TV while the more left leaning stuff is across multiple channels.

      You are either being misleading or don’t understand the power Fox News has.

    • DJ says:

      10:54am | 31/10/12

      the organisations you listed are centre (US centre anyway) lower case andrew - MSNBC is the Fox equivalent

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      10:55am | 31/10/12

      @LCA

      You are smoking crack if you think Washington Post is left wing. Its a well known right wing paper along with the Washington Times.

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      10:57am | 31/10/12

      @andye

      “Because FOX News is a beast.”

      Ooooh I know, it’s soooooo terrible.

      People are being FORCED to watch Fox News, forced I say!  Those beastly right-wing nut jobs are Fox have a gun to our heads!


      Get real Andye.

      The Obama-Democratic friendly media in the US has far more reach and clout than Fox News.  It runs the spectrum of the mainstream, established outlets (NYT most notably) over to the new media darlings (Huffington Post) and over to the left-wing haters clubs (Daily Kos).

      So you don’t like Fox.  Neither do I.  Big freaking deal.  Unlike here, the US has a multitude of media outlets; there’s is choice available, whether you’re right-wing, left-wing or whatever.

      Really, this “Fox News” mantra is so tedious. It’s the “Abbott Abbott Abbott” of political media discussion.

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      11:11am | 31/10/12

      @simon

      “You are smoking crack if you think Washington Post is left wing. Its a well known right wing paper along with the Washington Times.”

      Thanks for that laugh.

      Both newspapers are well known for their centre-left views, and their particular animosity towards Republican politics.  They’re to the right of Green Left Weekly, but left of mainstream America.

      Please educate yourself before responding next time.  And try reading one or both of those newspapers.

    • andye says:

      11:54am | 31/10/12

      @lower_case_andrew

      ..and Fox News is bigger than any of them. That is what I meant by “beast”. Size.

      Also, if you are going to consider a blog like the Daily Kos “the media”, then I have a new long list of conservative equivalents, starting with Free Republic.

      @lower_case_andrew - “So you don’t like Fox.  Neither do I.  Big freaking deal.  Unlike here, the US has a multitude of media outlets; there’s is choice available, whether you’re right-wing, left-wing or whatever.”

      I don’t think I said a single negative thing about them. I am explaining how big they are and how much more clout they have than anyone else. Their ratings have historically dwarfed their nearest competition.

      When you talk about conservative TV news in the US you are talking about Fox News. Period. Nobody else really matters. For the middle to the left there are a bunch of smaller players, but no real large hard left equivalent to Fox.

      Basically, Fox holds a unique position. It has a near monopoly on conservative TV News. This is why references to the left leaning mainstream media are a tad ironic. None of those media outlets can hold a candle to Fox. It is an elephant in a paddock full of cows.

    • DJ says:

      12:09pm | 31/10/12

      @LCA - Washington Post prints renowned right wing commentator Charles Krauthammer doesn’t it? Hardly a bastionof the left, if you had of said NY Times you might have got away with it…

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      02:15pm | 31/10/12

      LCA

      I think you forgot the Posts love affair with Bush, even right wingers acknowledge its right wing.

      As DJ said, if you said NY Times I could agree with you.

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      04:07pm | 31/10/12

      @ simonfromlakemba

      “I think you forgot the Posts love affair with Bush, even right wingers acknowledge its right wing.”

      No.

      You are very confused.  You seem to be talking about the New York Post, not the Washington Post.

      The Washington Post was routinely scathing of Bush. It has been no friend to the Republicans. It has had an on-again, off-again stance on the various wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and had some “neocons” contributing pieces for it, but overall it has been a liberal newspaper. (Even if some liberals, and far-leftists don’t believe it’s been liberal enough. Such is the nature of American journalism.)

      Oh, and for the record?  The Washington Post is endorsing Obama for President. He is the “far superior candidate” for the Post.

      They also endorsed Obama in 2008.

      In 2004 the Washington Post endorsed John Kerry against Bush.

      In 2000 the Washington Post endorsed Al Gore against Bush.

      and so on. It’s been much the same with Congressional and Senate races.

      Their record speaks for itself.  The Washington Post is overwhelmingly pro-Democratic Party.

      (Naturally, The New York Times also endorses Obama.  No surprises there.)

    • NESLIHAN KUROSAWA says:

      08:04am | 31/10/12

      Hi Brad,

      Natural disasters are absolutely horrific for all those people directly affected by them. Yes most leaders will step in to do their bid to to comfort t and ease the pain and the hardship caused to the members of the public. I guess that all that effort doesn’t go unnoticed by the usual voters and it may do wonders about their public image and approval ratings in the polls.  During the times of crisis and real trouble most people have a way of forgetting their differences by pulling together as well as forgetting all those nasty things which might have been said about each other in the past, right?

      Which is really great by the way and it makes us all realize that we aren’t all that invincible as human beings!  Somehow we all happen to be part of this very fragile planet, we call home.  However having said all that Mr Barrack Obama is in a very tricky situation because he is being judged on very many things like his true origins and his personal faith as well as questions about him being born overseas in a far away land like Kenya.

      Well this could be all a part of negative publicity campaign which I find a bit damaging to his reputation for the time being.  The only question remains to be “is Mr Obama feeling strong enough to survive this storm and the turbulence for another term and can he actually prove his opponents wrong once again”?  Kind regards.

    • AdamC says:

      08:21am | 31/10/12

      I have a bit of a soft spot for Obama. He has played the crummy hand he was dealt as President, had some wins and carries himself with dignity. However, being President has clearly taken its toll. He has aged terribly in only four years. Were they not such a famous couple, waiters would almost assume he was Michelle Obama’s dad or uncle, rather than her husband.

      I think he should just concede the election to Romney and go make millions on the lecture circuit. A win for the USA and a win for the Obamas.

      What do we think of that?

    • Louise says:

      09:39am | 31/10/12

      Conceding I don’t know a lot about US politics, Obama has never impressed me much.  I’m happy for those it meant a lot to that they’ve seen a black president at last, but as leaders go he strikes me as more style than substance.  He looks and sounds good (with a teleprompter) which, rightly or wrongly, counts for a lot in the TV/internet age. But Nobel Peace Prize winner? Why don’t they just make him the next King of England too.

      Fingers crossed for Americans for a Romney win.

    • Yorkey says:

      10:00am | 31/10/12

      Romney and his Republican backers will start a new Middle Eastern war with Iran if he wins office. How is that a win for anyone other than the arms manufacturer’s who support the Republicans?

    • HappyG says:

      10:28am | 31/10/12

      @Yorkey. Yeah Romney’s stance on Iran is a bit of a worry. But then again Iran is a bit of a worry. I just hope whoever is running Oz when the shit hits the fan has the sense to stay out of it. Not confident though given our track record of following the USA into every ill conceived barney they’ve gotten into.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      11:02am | 31/10/12

      Obama has been fine, he has stuffed some things up and suffered from the Rudd disease of promising a great deal and not delivering on it all.

      It wasn’t his fault he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, not like he gave it to himself. I don’t agree with him getting it either, thought it was stupid and symbolic and gave the right wing way too much ammunition.

      Romney is scary on Foreign policy, I can see a Bush 2 coming on. The thing about Obama is, he is very stern on his foreign policy, at the start he was a push over, but his second term has been a lot better. Romney I can see being taken over by the neo-cons and hawks in the Defence department as was Bush previously.

    • Louise says:

      11:06am | 31/10/12

      Yorkey, I understand your concern about the war issue. I was looking at it from an economic perspective - I think the US has a better chance of getting its economy back on track under the Republicans.

    • Esteban says:

      11:47am | 31/10/12

      I don’t know why anyone would want the job of US president.

      Neither side of politricks has the political will or even the support of the citizens to implement the major economic reforms to re structure the economy.

      Beyond TEA party elements I doubt the citizens even understand the depth of the US economic problems let alone be prepared to suffer the necessary remedial actions.

      Some future president through no fault of their own is going to be the encumbant during a financial collapse the likes of which we have never experienced before.

      The financial collapse will come when the US bond market collapse occurs.

      Obama will win a second term. I think he would have anyway but the storm will assure it. For his sake I hope the Government debt problem can be kicked down the road for another four years.

      It would be a great shame if financial collapse occured on his watch.

      Despite all the evidence that no civilisation can withstand the test of time each new great civilisation believes they are different and special and have everything under control.

      Here in WA we are in the same time zone as most of Asia. With our state’s share of the GST predicted to fall below 20% by 2050 our financial relationship with Canberra is shrinking by the day as our economy further integrates into Asia.  (How on earth could that have happened before the Govt white paper even came out?).

      I doubt there is a better place in a western type nation on earth to ride out a major financial collapse.

    • AdamC says:

      11:53am | 31/10/12

      Louise, Yorkey et al, I have tried but failed to identify any substantial policy difference betweenn Romney and Obama on Iran. Watching them (and their running mates) try so hard to confect a disagreement was quite bizarre. As I noted at the time, the candidates should simply agree to agree.

      I hate to disappoint everyone, but a full-scale war with Iran is very unlikely, whoever is in charge.

      Simon, Obama should not have spent so much of the middle of his term on his Obamacare Jihad. That was his major error.

    • difficult lemon says:

      12:08pm | 31/10/12

      @simonfromlekemba

      “The thing about Obama is, he is very stern on his foreign policy, at the start he was a push over, but his second term has been a lot better.”

      His “second term”??!!

      Huh?? We’re not quite there yet.

    • Markus says:

      12:37pm | 31/10/12

      Read an article a while back that pointed out 70% of US Presidents have died below the male average life expectancy.
      You only have to see some of the before and after pictures floating around the net to see the hyper-aging process they all seem to go through, even in just one term.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      02:25pm | 31/10/12

      @Difficult Lemon

      The 2010 mid term elections.

      @AdamC

      Yes, dam him for trying to give people health care! smile

    • difficult lemon says:

      02:56pm | 31/10/12

      @ simon

      well you are still incorrect

      mid term elections are for Congress not the Presidency

      Obama is nearing the end of his first term trying for a second

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      03:48pm | 31/10/12

      @simonfromlakemba

      “The 2010 mid term elections.”

      That is not the “second term”.

      The term of office is for four years.  The second (and final) term is the four years following the re-election of the President.


      Anyway, I don’t think Romney has a real chance to be President.  However, it’s amazing to think that he’s even in with a chance, considering just how sorry the state of the GOP is.

      It says much about Obama’s performance for mainstream American voters that Romney is even being considered. Once you get past the extremes on both sides, it means that Obama has not impressed great swathes of centrist (or mainstream, if you prefer) voters.

      And that’s mostly because of the economy.  But also because he was seen as the Big Hope, and has thus far failed to deliver.  Lots of rhetoric, and he speaks a mean speech, but it hasn’t amounted to a hell of a lot for people on the ground. I think there’s very much a feeling of “business as usual” in Washington, and that’s not how Obama won in the first place.

    • Alex says:

      08:34am | 31/10/12

      How did Bush pay the electoral price?

    • Elisabeth says:

      12:13pm | 31/10/12

      Great question Alex. Bush had two terms and had to step aside as set out by the consitution. He never lost, so to say he paid an electoral price is totally incorrect.

    • Cookookachoo says:

      01:24pm | 31/10/12

      Technically correct - however as the leader of Republican Party and campaign strongly for John McCain, he paid the electoral price in seeing the Republican brand tarnished and voted out of office. The criticism that followed his ‘fly over’ of New Orleans was another ‘brick in the wall’ that led to the fall of the Republican term in the Whitehouse.

    • Bill says:

      08:37am | 31/10/12

      Cynical, i know, but I reckon some leaders actually revel in the opportunity of being the knight in shining armour in such events. Howard almost seemed to take delight in being called upon to be solemn

    • Chris says:

      11:09am | 31/10/12

      I don’t think that is cynical at all. If you have fought like a bastard to become a political leader then it is pretty obvious that you have a huge desire to lead not just do endless compromise deals with those around you.
      A disaster like this is an opportunity for a leader to lead… it is what these leaders live for… the chance to be an old fashioned king or queen, rallying the troops and inspiring the people… I bet they don’t just revel in it… I bet they absolutely love it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, deep down in Howard’s heart of hearts, the highlights of his career were:
      1) Being in Washington on the actual day of 9/11
      2) Port Arthur - and the gun buyback program
      3) The Tsunami and giving the billion bucks to the Indonesians

    • JoniM says:

      12:40pm | 31/10/12

      Fair dinkum Bill !

      Howard was a proper leader !
      Being solemn was an appropriate demeanor for events of tragedy !
      Buggering up the delivery of a googly in India was as equally appropriate for the circumstances at hand !
      Taking swift action after Port Arthur was appropriate leadership.
      Making tough decisions on border security was appropriate leadership as so starkly being proven today !

    • ruru says:

      09:11am | 31/10/12

      The ABCs obsessive coverage of the USA presidential campaign has been as interesting as their blow by numbing blow of the lead up to the storm and the continuing coverage is being milked for all its worth.
      The American voters will determine who will be their next President, and the natural disaster may well win or lose a fickle vote, but I think it will remain a very tight contest.
      Sure, the odd update of American affairs is ok, but this is overkill. We have much more pertinent news in our own region.
      I’m so over it.

    • Geronimo says:

      09:57am | 31/10/12

      The rationale for including an opportunistic grovelling patronizer like the draft dodging Howard in this Line Up, is either acquiescence or its delusional.

    • HappyG says:

      10:37am | 31/10/12

      So not a JWH fan then ?

    • TheRealDave says:

      10:48am | 31/10/12

      I despise ‘Honest’ John right up there with the rest of them…but how was he a ‘Draft Dodger’ ?? Given that by 1965 he was 26.

    • Geronimo says:

      11:50am | 31/10/12

      Davo, try this…Howard’s alter ego Menzies introduced conscription for men 18 years and over in the early 60s. Among the heroes who later preferred to send other peoples kids into illegal war zones, Howard and Daisy Downer, with incredible perception, had already applied and been granted what was then called, “Deferred Service Status”.

    • TheRealDave says:

      12:43pm | 31/10/12

      Well actually, it was introduced in the early 50’s and the Navy and Air Force dropped it in 1957 and the Army only took a fraction in 57, 58 and 59 before it was shitcanned in 60. ‘Honest’ John was 18 in 1957…..so I still can’t see him being a ‘draft’ dodger if he wasn’t called up and the scheme was cancelled in two branches of the military and vastly scaled back in the other.

      I do agree that Downer fled the country to avoid the possibility of conscription…and then had the hide to beat his chest and ‘stride the battlefields’ in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.

      So, as I said, as much as I despise the man I don’t think its fair to label JH a ‘draft dodger’.

    • Geronimo says:

      01:50pm | 31/10/12

      You have the bull by the ass Davo, you are referring to National Service not Menzies` Conscription.  This Vietnam Vet can assure you, Howard like his Texas Hero , was and still is a draft dodging coward

    • marley says:

      02:30pm | 31/10/12

      @Geronimo -I think you’re talking out of your hat.  Menzies introduced the National Service Scheme for in late 1964, requiring 20-year olds to register and await possible conscription.  That was the infamous “birthday ballot.” 

      Howard was 25 when the scheme was introduced, and too old ever to have been drafted under it.  Whatever else he may have done, he didn’t dodge the Vietnam draft.

    • Geronimo says:

      04:54pm | 31/10/12

      Crap!
      National Service was introduced to send Cannon Fodder to the Korean War in the early 50s, Menzies in the 60s simply used some National Servicemen and a few volunteer Regulars as a prelude to participating in Vietnam.

      They acted as Menzies` Guinea Pig Justification to convince the Electoral Mugs that the Reds were Coming to pinch their Farters.

      The Draft Dodging Monkey See Monkey Do Howard did exactly the same with Saddam’s Nuclear Powered Camels to justify his ongoing multi billion dollar illegal invasion of Iraq.

    • Ben says:

      05:16pm | 31/10/12

      @Geronimo

      >>This Vietnam Vet can assure you, Howard like his Texas Hero , was and still is a draft dodging coward

      Look, honestly, we’re really, really impressed with the fact you’re a Vietnam veteran. Incidentally, what does that have to do with the allegation of Howard being a draft dodger, of which you have no evidence?

      On another note, it was the ALP which first successfully introduced conscription in this country for overseas service albeit on a limited scale (the South West Pacific Zone during WWII). Ironically it was spearheaded by John Curtin, who was briefly imprisoned during WWI for his anti-conscription activities.

    • marley says:

      06:14pm | 31/10/12

      @Geronimo - I have a very good friend who is younger, by a few months, than Howard. My friend was deferred in the post-war draft system because he was doing police college in 1957.  Howard would presumably have gotten an exemption at the same time, as an 18 or 19 year old, going on to further studies.  Most kids were.

      By the time my friend had finished his training, that version of the draft was over. Howard would still have been in uni.  And my friend assures me that when the new National Service scheme was introduced in 1964, he was too old for it.  And, as I say, he’s a few months younger than Howard.

      So, sorry, you’re the one talking crap. As anyone of my friend’s vintage, or a cursory check on the internet, would tell you. Howard didn’t dodge the Viet Nam draft because he wasn’t eligible to be drafted. Your statement that everyone 18 and older was eligible is garbage.  Which tells me how much weight I should give to the rest of your comments.

    • JTZ says:

      06:15pm | 31/10/12

      @Geronimo please provide proof. There is ample evidence out there that Bush dodged the draft.

      If you can not provide the proof I guess you are either a troll or a labor party member trying to muddy the water.

    • JTZ says:

      06:23pm | 31/10/12

      @Geronimo I will be notifying the ANZMI to see if they can verify you are a actual vet or someone who is full of it and never servied a day in Nam.

      What battalion where you in.

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      06:34pm | 31/10/12

      Tell us how you really feel Geronimo.

    • Liberal Donkey says:

      11:22am | 31/10/12

      This is all Obamas fault!

    • Bear says:

      11:38am | 31/10/12

      It was Bush who was the draft dodger. He could fly one of the idiot proof planes like they had on the Simpsons but when it came actual combat as if he was going anywhere near it!

    • Swamp Thing says:

      11:53am | 31/10/12

      Leaders?
      What on earth are they?

    • Wilma J Craig says:

      01:07pm | 31/10/12

      Just pray we don’t get such a storm between now & next August which will mean that you-know-who will be gone, gone, gone!

    • Tanya says:

      01:45pm | 31/10/12

      People naturally gravitate towards the incumbent in the midst of crisis because the incumbent is a constant. If Barak Obama has anything to learn from Anna Bligh, it would be not to attempt to leverage political mileage out of misery and not to assume that a spike in the polls will necessarily carry through to the ballot box, give or take the timing. Anna Bligh did nothing outstanding during the Queensland floods. Whilst she was making hourly television appearances spruiking updates that could have been delivered by any media representative, Campbell Newman, the now incumbent (by one of the largest majorities in history,) was providing hands on help to clean up. The now infamous speech about mother nature unleashing her fury that apparently drove the spike in her popularity, eventually became a poison chalice after her PR team’s miserable attempt to have it immortalised in the education curriculum. Her popularity was further eroded when they flogged the dead horse in the election campaign. By that time general consensus had it that the Eva Peron like performance wherein matriarchal strength barley triumphed over tears, was actually due to the fact that the state was already stone cold broke and she hadn’t renewed the disaster insurance. So much for the Anna for PM intimations.

    • bananabender says:

      02:00pm | 31/10/12

      Anna Bligh did nothing but wring her hands and blubber for the cameras during the Brisbane floods.

    • Robert McCormick says:

      02:10pm | 31/10/12

      Doubtless Mitt Romney & his Republicans & the Republican’s “Tea Party” people, Sarah Palin & other members of the Republican Ratbaggery will now start to claim that “Superstorm Sandy” was all Barack Obama’s fault.
      Though they created it they have already tried to shift the blame for the Global Financial Crisis onto Obama. Doubtless many Republicans also blame him for their Illegal Invasion of Iraq, the disaster which will be left in Afghanistan after the “Thrice Accursed Infidels” leave & the Taliban take over once again.
      Romney’s big mistake was that he stayed on the campaign trail instead of joining Obama in Washington to offer as much support to the Americans in trouble as he could. The vision shown of him showed him to be thoroughly enjoying what was happening on the US’ East Coast.

    • Siege of Perth says:

      03:47pm | 31/10/12

      The Storm will definitly boost Obamas popular vote, but like our system, it doesnt matter. He holds all the crucial swing states and would have to loose a swather of them to loose office. That said Sandy could actually have a serious negative impact on obamas voters in the states affected. Because its no compolsoury to vote there, many people might find it too difficult to get to a polling station with the roads and public transport offline, plus having “no time” because they gotta clean up the mess it left. Will be interesting to see the true effect Sandy has.

    • thistle says:

      05:08pm | 31/10/12

      Storm or no storm, Barack Obama has not been the messiah the gullible fans (fawning Australians, also) wanted him to be.

      Even our own Bob Carr has changed his mind (forgotten?) what his opinion of Romney used to be -  way back in January.

      Understandable, considering the importance of putting up endless photos of Himself on his Scrapbook Blog.

    • Swansea says:

      05:32pm | 31/10/12

      Mitt Romney bloodless?
      “bloodless” -  meaning cowardly, lily-livered, timid ........
      or fearful of learning to drive a car?

      What hypocrites most politicians are -  Anna Bligh’s weepy TV acts didn’t exactly win her the election.  Some in the media called her performances “a template”.

      Not a winner, after all

    • Brian Drew says:

      06:10pm | 31/10/12

      Geronimo, I was in the 6th National Service intake ,which started in September,1966. Yes, I was 20 like everyone else! John Howard was born in 1939,so was about 25 when conscription started. You obviously don’t like him but at least get your facts straight!

 

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