MSNBC today criticized Mitt Romney for holding a rally for Hurricane Sandy relief. According to the Washington Post:
The stop was billed as a “storm relief” event, and attendees were asked to bring non-perishable foods and other items for those affected by the storm. Long white tables to one side of the cavernous James S. Trent Arena were piled high with flashlights, batteries, diapers, toothbrushes, mini-deodorants, fleece blankets, cereal, toilet paper and canned goods.
Two large TV screens at the front of the venue bore the logo of the American Red Cross and the message: “Sandy: Support the Relief Effort. Text ’REDCROSS’ to 90999 to make a $10 donation.”
Various MSNBC talking heads accused him of feigning compassion for victims in order to score points with the electorate. GQ’s Ana Marie Cox remarked:
“I found that sort of fake, relief rally, whatever it is, to be pretty offensive, and also wrong-headed.”
According to Newsbusters.org, Cox called Romney’s efforts “craven.”
Romney’s event placed him in stark contrast to President Obama, noted Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta and Lehigh professor James Peterson, guests of show host Martin Bashir.
“I think that this is just another moment where you see the clear striking difference between a president who has a heart for the American people and someone who simply wants to be president of the United States,” said Mayor Reed.
“Indeed,” replied Bashir who then asked for Peterson’s input.
“I would agree,” echoed Peterson. “It’s compassion that shows through in times like these. It’s humanity that shows through in times like these, and it just seems clear that the President, in addition to stepping up and doing what he does as Commander-in-Chief, demonstrates compassion in these remarks and in his approach to this kind of serious disaster.”
This in obvious contrast to the President’s opponent:
“All we’ve seen from Romney and from his surrogates is all kinds of politicizing and misdirection,” Peterson continued, “and I think the American people in this sort of disastrous moment can really see in bold relief the differences between President Obama and former Governor Romney.”
(“See in bold relief the differences between President Obama and former Governor Romney.” As Hamlet once noted, “a consummation devoutly to be wished.”)
Bashir referred to President Obama’s later comment in a speech at Red Cross headquarters that “the Red Cross knows what it’s doing:”
Did [Obama], did you detect perhaps a subtle dig there on Mr. Romney who spent today going against the guidelines established by the Red Cross and holding a campaign rally in Ohio that was dressed up like a charity drive collecting food and other supplies when the Red Cross expressly asked people not to do that?
Certainly it is curious that Mr. Romney should not defer to the Red Cross’s request that all hurricane relief efforts worldwide be made through direct contributions of cash to the Red Cross and only the Red Cross, as only the Red Cross is competent to distribute hurricane relief — a fact not lost on the President.
Further, it is close to reprehensible, if not actually “craven,” of Romney to organize a large event that provides substantial donations of material and cash — to the Red Cross — in order to burnish his image width voters. Obama’s speech at Red Cross headquarters was a necessary obligation of a national leader, and clearly in no way designed to benefit the President’s image or electoral opportunity. Romney, whose only connection to eleemosynary effort is his annual six figure sum of charitable contributions purely designed to reduce his tax burden, should have had enough respect for the victims to remain silent during this time of national emergency, and cede the podium to the President until the disaster is well past us.
If this requires him to cancel all campaign events prior to the imminent election, then so be it. Decency requires it. Thus spake MSNBC. Thus let it be done.