It's hard to imagine the leaders of two different political parties presenting a more stark contrast in their approach to a national catastrophe than the two images presented by Barack Obama and Eric Cantor this past week.
For Eric Cantor, the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri was just another opportunity to take hostages in the GOP War on the Working Classes. Survivors in Joplin did not even have time to find and bury their dead before Eric Cantor announced plans to block federal relief funds for Missouri unless his demands were met.
I don’t expect much from House Republicans, but this has managed to actually surprise me. When disaster strikes and there are deadly consequences, federal officials are expected to put aside politics and ideology, and commit whatever’s necessary to help.In stark contrast to Cantor's attempt to seize political advantage from this tragedy, Barack Obama has dedicated himself to consoling the Joplin survivors and finding ways to help Joplin recover and move forward. Obama has become the nation's healer-in-chief.
Indeed, the far-right Washington Times noted* today that Tom DeLay, when he was the House Majority Leader, believed emergency disaster relief should be immediate, without regard for offsetting cuts. “It is right to borrow to pay for it,” DeLay said at the time, adding that cuts could undermine the economy.
Congratulations, Eric Cantor. You’ve made Tom DeLay look like a moderate, and created an environment in which Democrats wish he were back as Majority Leader.
What’s more, Travis Waldron also noted that, despite the recent tornado disasters, Republicans are also trying to gut tornado forecasting services.
Cantor's actions are more than just a moral betrayal of the duties all Americans owe to their fellow Americans in distress, Cantor's actions are a very pointed political betrayal of a loyal Republican area of Missouri:
Though times of trouble can erase politics and unite people, a phenomenon Obama has commented on, his task as healer Sunday unfolded on unfriendly political ground as his re-election campaign approaches. Obama narrowly lost Missouri to Republican John McCain in 2008, but in Jasper County, where Joplin is located, McCain won by a large margin: 66 percent to 33 percent.Maybe the nice folks in Joplin, Missouri will understand Cantor's betrayal and just chalk it up to politics as usual.