Between a Barack and a hard place: Sandy or campaigning, which comes first?

The president is in Washington to handle Hurricane Sandy, but it is the last place he wants to be. How he responds may have an unexpected impact on the election. Photo: NOAA

CHARLOTTEOctober 29, 2012 – The country is between Barack and a hard place. With the election looming, Hurricane Sandy is making its mark on both the geographical and political landscapes, and the president is caught in the middle.

No matter how President Obama handles the weather/political situation, he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

That said, we have seen for four years that the president much prefers golfing, partying with celebrities and giving speeches to working or making decisions. Were it not for the Benghazi attack six weeks ago, Obama would likely still be on the campaign trail instead of in Washington with only a week to go before the election.

As Sandy bears down on the densely populated east coast, Obama can do little but sit tight be presidential, pacing the floor and chomping at the bit to be out on the campaign trail.

The “cool one” is cooling his heels, and methinks he doth not like it one bit.

The wind, rain and cold should all be over by Wednesday, but the damage will remain and the clean-up will just be starting. No one knows what the extent of the damage will be, how large an area will be affected or how long it will take to return to some semblance of normalcy.

It is entirely possible that there will be enough post-Sandy destruction to have an impact on the election via voters being too busy cleaning up to stand in line for the voting booths.

Were it not been for the untimely foreign policy muck-up in Libya on September 11, the hurricane might have been a plus for the president. He could have gone about business as usual and made pronouncements about the storm from whatever campaign stop he happened to be in at the time. But Benghazi became the incident that will not go away, and Obama can ill afford to have a back-to-back pair of negative episodes where he fails to take a leadership role.

So the president is stuck in Washington, biting his nails and trying to figure out a strategy.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is under no obligation to cease campaigning, but his campaign would be best served if he tones down the rhetoric temporarily as the nation braces for the storm.

Regardless of his decision, Romney has the advantage of not being in the White House and, therefore, does not have the same liability as the president to appear in control of a situation that is entirely out of his control entirely.

It will be interesting to see whether Romney is able to form a political tactic that can make him more presidential than the president. Either way, both candidates face a delicate juggling task of being genuinely concerned about the fate of the country without appearing to respond for political gain.

The political gods are playing a cruel, fascinating games with the American psyche. For the moment the concern for about a third of the country is simply dealing with the storm. An election is not a priority.

It will be the aftermath of Sandy, in the immediate hours following the storm, that may determine who is able to best take advantage of this catastrophic meteorological event.

For now it looks like a major disadvantage for Obama, particularly if people are too busy cleaning up to vote, but the winds of change could ultimately turn it to an advantage just days before the most critical election in decades.    


Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 70 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.


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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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