Hurricane Ian reveals the Biden administration’s pettiness—and fear

Hurricane Ian is shaping up to be a big deal. It’s currently a Category 3 hurricane (sustained winds maxing out at 125 MPH and lots of moisture), growing stronger by the minute. It’s expected to land in Florida late Wednesday or early Thursday as a Category 2 or 3 storm. The possibility of severe damage to life and property is currently very high. At times like this, state governors matter because they’re responsible for mobilizing emergency services to protect their state. When presidents are normal, they reach out to the affected governors to offer aid and make plans. So far, though, Biden will not talk to Governor Ron DeSantis.

The Daily Wire reports:

President Joe Biden (D) has spoken on the phone with numerous Florida mayors ahead of Hurricane Ian’s anticipated landfall this week, but he has not called Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), one of his top political opponents.

Biden held separate calls Tuesday with Mayor Jane Castor of Tampa, Mayor Ken Welch of St. Petersburg, and Mayor Frank Hibbard of Clearwater to discuss preparations for the potential impacts from Hurricane Ian, the White House said in a statement.

The president spoke about response efforts at the federal, state, and local levels that officials are taking to be ready for if and when the hurricane hits the state.

What was notable about the statement from the administration was that it made no mention of Biden reaching out to DeSantis. Biden’s apparent refusal to talk to DeSantis comes after he pledged “unity” and promised to be “a President for all Americans.”

In addition to both Castor and Welch being Democrats, mayors are, as a general matter, safe. Because their political office is so far removed from the White House, they’re probably impressed and flattered to hear directly from the American president.

Image: Hurricane Ian. YouTube screen grab.

It’s not hard, though, to understand why Biden is unwilling to talk to DeSantis. Biden doesn’t want to shine any spotlight at all on DeSantis. Natural disasters are always a proving ground for governors and, when the governor is a Republican, the media scrutinizes their every word and move. Given that DeSantis has shown himself, so far, to be an effective administrator, he’s likely to emerge well from the scrutiny. The last thing Biden wants to do is to give DeSantis even more media attention.

But what I see here is fear. DeSantis is currently a big star in the Republican party. He guided his state successfully through COVID by ignoring the panics, lockdowns, and mandates, and he’s also shown himself to be very adept at PR. His staff members shut down Twitter criticism, his speeches are direct and unafraid, his policies are normal (no sex talk in kindergarten classrooms), and his Martha’s Vineyard plan captured voters’ imaginations.

With all that in mind, can you imagine Biden trying to maintain a conversation with DeSantis? Currently, Biden’s speech and conduct are strongly indicative of dementia:

Even in a polite conversation, there’s the risk that DeSantis will eat Biden alive. In addition, you can be certain that DeSantis will be taking notes and that some or all of what Biden has to say will be remembered for later use.

Biden’s refusal (so far) to call DeSantis is almost certainly connected to political calculations. It’s also entirely at odds with the American president’s obligation to be there in times of need for all Americans. But of course, this is the same president who’s asserted that half the country is “semi-fascist” for failing to support his administration. Unity is difficult once you’ve made that call.

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