The federal responses to catastrophes and natural disasters are often seen as a test of presidential leadership. George W. Bush’s response to 9/11 sent his approval ratings into the low 90s. Barack Obama’s infamous “hug” with then-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie after Hurricane Sandy created the narrative that Obama was effectively leading the federal response efforts in a bipartisan fashion. It wasn’t an accurate narrative, but it was enough to boost Obama before the 2012 elections.
The Biden administration took a lot of flak In the aftermath of the train derailment that caused a huge environmental disaster in East Palestine, Ohio. Biden never made a point to give the appearance of caring about the accident or the recovery efforts, and didn’t even attempt to take credit for the federal response because there wasn’t one—until public pressure forced the administration to respond.
Many felt that Ohio was cruelly ignored and denied the federal assistance they repeatedly begged for.
Today, Hawaii is recovering from the devastating wildfires, the most destructive in American history, which have now reportedly killed close to 100 people. One might think that Joe Biden would pay some attention to the wildfires, or at least pretend to care to perhaps make up for what he did to East Palestine.
But that hasn’t happened. He remains on vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Del., instead of cutting it short to go to Hawaii to oversee federal recovery efforts or even returning to the White House.
After spending a couple of hours on the beach in Rehoboth, Biden was asked about the rising death toll in Maui and reports that there are roughly 1,000 people still missing.
“No comment,” Joe Biden responded.
After a couple hours on the Rehoboth beach, @potus was asked about the rising death toll in Hawaii
“No comment,” he said before heading home pic.twitter.com/Y0UmXirju9
— Justin Sink (@justinsink) August 13, 2023
“No comment”? He can’t seriously have no comment, can he? Many believed that politics played a role in Biden’s lack of concern about the people of East Palestine because the town is in a conservative area of the state. I wouldn’t put it past him to do that. Heck, it took Donald Trump visiting East Palestine to finally get the Biden administration to send Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to make an appearance. Joe Biden still hasn’t visited East Palestine and most certainly never will.
Does Donald Trump need to go to Maui to get the Biden administration to take notice of the situation in the Aloha State and do something for Hawaii? It wouldn’t surprise me.
It may not be safe for Biden to go to Maui, but he could go to another island, speak with local leaders, and get the obligatory helicopter shot to give the impression of leadership. If politics were the reason for his lack of action with East Palestine, that wouldn’t explain his indifference to Hawaii over their plight. Hawaii is a blue state; Obama grew up there. They even have beaches there.
So, why not go? It has been long speculated that Biden, who has spent a ridiculous amount of his presidency on vacation, needs these vacations to be functional. We often go days without seeing him. Is Biden not well enough to make any significant public appearances or pretend to take charge? Maybe.
Or perhaps he is just that uncaring.