In tough times, true values emerge.
Days ago, Republican Congressman Tom Cole was giving Darrell Issa an “attaboy” for his Benghazi witch hunt against Obama. But suddenly he’s not so worried about what scandals Issa can manufacture (per the Heritage Institute’s instructions), but glad that someone else kept the government going while Republicans let it burn. That someone is President Obama.
Monday night, following his call to Governor Mary Fallin, President Obama also spoke with Republican Congressman Tom Cole, whose hometown of Moore, Oklahoma took the brunt of Monday’s tornado, to express his concern for those who had been impacted and his deep condolences for the many who have lost loved ones.
Cole told Chris Matthews how much he appreciated the President reaching out so quickly to him, and then he went on to praise government, “And I appreciate the president reaching out so quickly. Not surprised in a time like this, you know how lucky you are to be an American because all of the resources and capabilities of the United States government come in and help you whether you’re in Sandy or Katrina or Oklahoma city bombing or something like this.”
Watch here via NBC News, starting at 1:46:
Cole told Chris Matthews, “And I appreciate the president reaching out so quickly. Not surprised in a time like this, you know how lucky you are to be an American because all of the resources and capabilities of the United States government come in and help you whether you’re in Sandy or Katrina or Oklahoma city bombing or something like this. We’ll get through it. The numbers are aren’t going to get better. They are only going to get worse and it’s going to be a very, very difficult time going forward.”
President Obama showed what government run by someone who believes in it looks like Monday night, as he continued to receive updates overnight from his team on the ongoing response to the tornados and approved a Major Disaster Declaration for Oklahoma. The Disaster Declaration makes federal funding available to support affected individuals, as well as additional federal assistance to support immediate response and recovery efforts.
Tuesday morning the President received a briefing in the Oval Office on the response by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco, and other senior members of the President’s response team.
Cole’s point drives a stake through Republican ideology. After all, the entire idea is that government is bad and should be drowned in a bathtub. But when it hits home, suddenly it’s great to be an American with a government we can rely upon to help us, and suddenly the president is a good guy because he puts partisanship aside and leads like a real American President should. Obama is, let’s face it, quite competent. There have been no Katrina disasters during which he was asleep at the wheel. Suddenly, we are all lucky to be Americans “because all of the resources and capabilities of the United States government come in and help you.”
It was Reagan who turned the idea of government being there to help into a joke (“Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help” – HAR HAR!), and Republicans love to prattle on with smug scorn about the evils of government. At some point, they need to be called to account – why is it that government being there for Republicans during their disasters is so great, so American, but being there for others makes them takers? Why is that?
It would be easy to say that by pointing out this fundamental flaw in Republican ideology, I was “politicizing” this tragedy. But that couldn’t be further from the truth, and would only be said in order to distract people from having a real policy discussion at a time of brutal honesty.
The truth is that there is nothing like desperate need to create a sudden love for American government, and appreciation for a President who not only shows up, but reaches out and stays on top of things. This matters, because as we have seen, disasters are sadly a constant. To govern as if this isn’t true, to legislate in denial of this fact, is quite simply ignorant and foolish.
From Sandy Hook to the Boston bombing, from Oklahoma to Sandy, the Congressman is correct — we count on the government to help, and those of us who aren’t impacted rely on our government to help our fellow Americans. That’s how we roll. That’s the spirit of the American people.
It matters, because this fundamental difference comprises the heart of modern day policy debates between liberals and conservatives. Every time a disaster strikes, Republicans show their true colors, whether that’s taking a stand against helping our own people or, like Cole, praising government for the help.
Days ago, Cole was obsessed with the phony Benghazi conspiracy his party drummed up against the President in order to hamper his second term. The Republican party was trying to shut down government, from the sequester to the refusal to legislate. But now, Cole is hoping the government is funded and works enough to help his hometown.
It is lucky for Republicans that this President does not hold a grudge. After all, it’s come out that a Capitol Hill Republican doctored the Benghazi emails in order to smear this President. But Obama has never been a petty man, lucky for Oklahoma.
The White House recommends helping people affected by the recent tornadoes through American Red Cross Disaster Relief. If you are in the affected areas, you can also register as “Safe and Well” to let your friends and family know you are okay.