Weather as political theater

Written by Baker City Herald Editorial Board September 07, 2012 08:47 am

Now that the conventions are over we can get down to some sober, well-reasoned debate about the future of the United States, right?

Well, no.

The likelihood, of course, is that we’ll be bombarded over the next two months by the same exaggerations, half-truths and half-baked conspiracies that created a political miasma this summer rivaling the actual cloying smoke from the wildfires that ravaged the West.

Only more, as the PACs burn through their budgets buying broadcast time.

Our cynicism is tempered slightly, though, by the notion that this onslaught of propaganda, however noxious, will at least concern itself with legitimate issues of public policy.

Which would constitute an improvement over the daftness that marked both conventions.

Some Republicans, who ought to have known better after canceling the first day of their convention in Tampa, Fla., due to Hurricane Isaac, tried to turn a similar weather-related change of venue at the Democratic covention in Charlotte, N.C., into an embarrassment.

Democratic officials moved President Obama’s Thursday speech from an outdoor football stadium, with a capacity of up to 74,000, to a 21,000-seat indoor arena after forecasters said severe thunderstorms were possible during the period the president was slated to speak.

To any reasonable person, it’s clear that having the president (or anyone else) struck by lightning would not enliven the proceedings.

Yet Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, suggested that Democrats had an ulterior motive for moving the president’s speech to an indoor venue.

“After promising to hold the event at Bank of America stadium rain or shine, suddenly Team Obama is moving inside after questions about enthusiasm for the event,” Kukowski said.

Rain is one thing.

A couple hundred thousand volts is quite another.

Efforts to connect the GOP’s first-day cancellation with the weather were at least plausible — there is a scientific link between climate change, which GOP leaders scoff at, and the incidence of extreme storms — but ultimately just as meaningless in the context of a political campaign.

Critiquing the GOP’s platform planks on the environment is legitimate. Suggesting the party was punished for its positions by an ill-timed tropical storm is just silly.