All it took was the threat of oil hitting the white beaches of Florida to reignite the political fortunes of Gov. Charlie Crist. Once counted out in the polls and basically chased out of his own party, the now independent Crist is the frontrunner.
Pictures of the white oil-less beaches in Florida with Charlie Crist with his silver-white statesman head of hair have proved to be political magic. And it’s not just Crist, Bobby Jindal in Louisiana and Haley Barbour in Mississippi have all benefitted from petroleum’s political jelly.
But there has been no wiggle room for folks at the Federal level. It’s a pattern we can see emerging from Katrina’s aftermath. While it is certainly the case there was righteous outrage focused at the Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA and the president for their responses to Katrina, the Federal blame was uniform.
On the other hand, some local politicians benefitted big time. Bobby Jindal is the first one who comes to mind but there was also New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin who seemed to find resurrection in the disaster. Something about being close to the people and powerless in the crises is a political success formula.
Before 9/11, New York Mayor Rudy Guliani could do nothing right. On September 12th he was a national hero while George Bush started down the road to oblivion. Lesson from Katrina: There’s nowhere for political blame to go but up and there’s nowhere better to find political treasure in an oil spill disaster than down … on the beach.
Perhaps President Obama will be thinking about that on his upcoming vacation in the gulf.