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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Focus, Rick! Focus!

When I first read this post on an Austin American Statesman site, I was iffy about it. If you don't want to click over to it, it's about a candidates' forum that was held in Waco on Friday. One of the candidates for Senator was there, and the other was not. And? Well... here. Let me explain.

Senator Cornyn, according to the article, didn't go to the forum. He cleared his schedule from Friday through Monday so that he and his office could focus on Hurricane Ike, doing whatever he could from his office to see that the feds are on top of things and that Houston has everything they need. He felt that politics could wait, according to the post. Well... that is part of his job.

Rick Noriega, who is the Texas State Representative from Houston and is in the Texas National Guard, took his uniform (and his boots, as if that matters... they are part of the uniform, no?) to the Waco forum, "just in case." He has campaigned, in part, on his work following Katrina (he was Incident Commander at the Brown center in Houston). His spokesperson said that they don't know if he will be called up or not. Well... ok... if he hasn't been called up, then he probably shouldn't get in the way, right?

What got me was this quote from the post.
Asked if the campaign considered not campaigning today in light of the hurricane, Apodaca said Noriega’s stop at the Killeen candidate forum was already on his calendar.
Granted, they did say that his schedule for the rest of the week was "up in the air."  Honestly, I think most people in the eastern quarter of the state has their schedules "up in the air." Some, quite literally. But, the way that sounds, he had to go... because it was on his calendar. Huh?

Yeah... there was nothing he could really do... but... it just sits wrong.

Schedules can be changed, even those written in ink. On the national scene, Barack Obama and John McCain are both holding rallies all weekend in areas unaffected by Ike. Life in those states goes on (as it does in Texas), and they have a race to win. Obama did, however, cancel his appearance on SNL because "In the light of the unfolding crisis in Texas, Senator Obama has decided it is no longer appropriate to appear on Saturday Night Live tomorrow evening." Good call, Obama campaign. That might have been seen as... tacky. I mean, it's not like you can do anything about the hurricane, but it would just be bad form to be yukking it up while people are finding out if their homes survived.

But... look at the quote in the last paragraph... "in light of the unfolding crisis..." 

Mr. Noriega, one quarter of the state you want to represent is in crisis this weekend. The district you represent is in crisis this weekend. I realize there might be nothing official you can do (I have no idea what the official obligations for State Representatives are beyond the Legislative session... for now, presume not much) - you are not in the position to call the feds and make sure that FEMA isn't sitting around instead of doing its job. You don't have the rank to call the Commander of the TNG and say, "How's it going? Do you need anything?" Calling the mayors and local officials or even the governor would be out of place (maybe). I get that.

You could have done something, however. You could have called off the forum. It wasn't that important, in the grand scheme of things. You could have said, "Instead of the forum, my staff is holding a food and clothes drive for the Red Cross." You could have come to Austin or San Antonio or Dallas and helped out at a shelter. You could have helped.

Politics as usual in Texas should have had the weekend off.

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