While Republican governors of devastated states – New Jersey’s Chris Christie, for one – give thanks for President Obama’s help in their time of need, Republican candidate Mitt Romney stubbornly insists the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be disbanded.
Romney first made the comment in a 2011 primary debate, when he was trying to appeal to his party’s radical right, and – despite his dizzying recent pivot to the center – his campaign says he still stands by that position.
He wants the federal government to get out of the disaster aid business and leave such responsibilities to the states or private interests.
Here’s how he justifies this position:
Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.
Meanwhile, the president has suspended campaigning to concentrate on organizing relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s rampage.
To me, this illustrates a key contrast between the candidates. Obama believes that by pooling their resources, the states can carry out some government functions more effectively. Romney doesn’t.
In Romney’s America, each state would have to fend for itself in good times and in bad. It’s an extension of a philosophy that insists individuals should fend for themselves, with only the fittest – or luckiest – surviving. That should enlighten those pundits who now see Romney as a “moderate.”
As I browsed past “Morning Joe” on MSNBC-TV this morning, I caught Joe Scarborough (a former Republican congressman) painting a picture of a “moderate” Romney presidency. His rationale is that since Romney has no ideology of his own, he would govern “as the market’ dictates,” and the “market” (the American public) does not favor Tea Party extremism.
Right. And as Al Sharpton would say, if you believe that, there’s this bridge I have to sell you.
Romney might not have an ideology of his own but he is surrounded by people who do. And he has chosen the most extreme right wingers. Nobody would describe his running mate, Paul Ryan, as a moderate. Ryan is a disciple of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of social Darwinism. He is an advocate of criminalizing abortion in all cases, even incest and rape. He even opposes some forms of birth control. And he opposes government aid to the old, the sick and the poor.
His positions are so far to the right that some bishops and nuns in the Roman Catholic Church (to which he belongs) have denounced them.
Equally scary is the phalanx of ultraconservative war hawks Romney has chosen as his advisers. They include members of the Bush-Cheney gang who argued America into the misguided invasion of Iraq.
Yes, I know Romney doesn’t have an ideal to call his own. I know he stands for nothing and everything as circumstances dictate. But I also know who his closest allies are.
And as my mother used to say, you can tell who a man is by the company he keeps.