The Reynolds/Rove/FEMA Backstory

30 Oct

If you’re looking for further evidence that Western New Yor’s designation as a “Major Disaster Area” by FEMA last week was politically motivated, look no further than this piece in the LA Times.

During a whirlwind five-hour trip to bolster an endangered GOP congressman’s reelection prospects, White House political guru Karl Rove last week delivered a fiery speech to 500 party activists, then shook every available hand and posed for snapshots like a rock star. He toured suburbs recently trashed by a snowstorm. He also found time to huddle with local strategists.

But the most significant element of Rove’s effort to help four-term Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds keep his job may have occurred behind closed doors, when the White House strategist met with a federal disaster relief official contemplating how to respond to the storm. Four days later, Reynolds announced that President Bush would authorize millions of dollars in federal disaster aid for the area.

The timing was perfect: Reynolds broke the news hours after testifying before the House Ethics Committee about his role in the Mark Foley sex scandal — knocking reports on the scandal out of the spotlight.

As Pundit pointed out on the day of the declaration, the timing was indeed serendipitous for Reynolds.

How fortuitous that the White House would designate western New York a disaster area on the very evening that Mr. Reynolds gave testimony to the House Ethics Commission investigating the Mark Foley page scandal.

Reynolds was on Hardwick’s show on Sunday (on the phone) and said that a federal disaster designation was imminent. Yet Monday and Tuesday and most of Wednesday rolled along with no such designation.

They waited until last night.

To give Reynolds a boost.

In essence, it forced the Buffalo News to exile this story to the front of City/Region.

Of course, Reynols steadfastly maintains that the issue of timing the release of good news to provide maximum benefit for him is complete horseshit.

In the end, it all worked out for Reynolds as his mise en scene of marshalling federal resources to bail out his “beloved Buffalo” resulted in a significant uptick in his poll numbers.

Paraphrasing Mencken…”Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the Western New York Voter.”

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