Georgia editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Brunswick News on criticism of emergency management officials in the wake of Hurricane Irma:
Some residents on St. Simons Island threw criticisms Peter Murphy’s way during his town hall meeting early this week to discuss Hurricane Irma response.
Criticisms included complaints about how long people had to remain evacuated and a lack of communication by county officials.
Since the storm, folks from all around the county, not only on St. Simons Island, have lodged similar complaints. None of them seem well founded given the massive scope of coordinating response to a storm.
The Golden Isles may not have experienced Irma’s full force, but the area suffered significant damage and extreme strain on infrastructure.
We know the evacuation was an inconvenience. It takes a lot of coordination for families to get their things in order to get out of town. It takes a lot of money to stay in hotels and buy food from restaurants.
Those inconveniences are just as prevalent for businesses that lose thousands of dollars in income from having to close or choose to pay employees who leave.
Consider those inconveniences and multiply them by 100 and you might begin to get a picture of just how big the job of emergency management officials is and how difficult the decisions they have to make truly are. They must consider the safety of the entire community, the strain on infrastructure and what the state of that infrastructure might be after the storm. They must think about the impacts of the storm on everyone and everything — rich people, poor people, hospitals, FLETC, water and sewer systems, power systems and much, much more.
What’s more, they are dealing with a constantly evolving storm and information that changes by the minute. Officials have to coordinate with hundreds of people, all with different interests and concerns, and must attempt to keep up with how bad the storm is, where it is and where it might go. They must pull all of that together and make informed decisions that protect lives and property.
In the aftermath of the storm, there were few traffic lights still hanging. Most that were hanging were not functioning. Sewer lift stations were out of order and essentially turning into giant septic tanks. Power poles were down and electricity was out throughout a majority of the county. Had everyone been allowed back into the county under those conditions, it would have overloaded law enforcement’s ability to direct traffic and keep things safe. If the entire populace had been using toilets in the two days after the storm, the sewage problems would have been much worse. With debris scattered everywhere and a regular day’s traffic on the roads, crews whose job it is to put things back to normal would have been greatly hindered.
We understand the inconvenience of evacuation is frustrating and expensive, but as we have said in this space a couple of times during the last month, EMA officials made the right calls and handled the cleanup and response well.
As one letter-writer put it to The News this week while defending the response: “Many thanks to our emergency management team and our first responders for a job well done. Overall, your performance was splendid.”
The Augusta Chronicle on Vice President Mike Pence and the NFL:
Want to know what’s richer than a National Football League player? It’s a National Football League player complaining that the vice president of the United States pulled a “PR stunt” by leaving a game in protest.
Now, that’s rich — considering it’s NFL players themselves who started the PR stunts by sitting or kneeling for the National Anthem.
The players were definitely nonplussed Sunday when they found out they don’t have the market cornered on acts of symbolism.
Vice President Mike Pence made a powerful, patriotic statement when he performed his own National Anthem protest: walking out of an NFL game after several players kneeled for The Star Spangled Banner. The vice president tweeted that he and the president “will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”
The question isn’t whether it was a publicity stunt. The president and vice president of the United States don’t need publicity stunts to get attention. The question is, why aren’t more Americans following the vice president’s example? How can we continue to sit there and stand for weekly vilification of our country?
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — who recently found a middle ground in kneeling with his players before they all stood together for the National Anthem — finally became the first NFL owner to break ranks and take a side on Sunday.
“If there is anything that is disrespectful to the flag then we will not play,” Jones told reporters. “You understand? If we are disrespecting the flag then we won’t play. Period. We’re going to respect the flag, and I’m going to create the perception of it. And we have.”
Good for him. And good for the country.
Again, it’s rich with irony — hypocrisy, more like it — that players who are performing their own PR stunt disrespecting the country would accuse anyone else of a PR stunt for showing respect for it.
It’s time more people took a stand as others kneel or sit in rejection of America.
The Savannah Morning News on President Donald Trump and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker:
Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee has been a valuable member of the Senate and a loyal member of the GOP and supporter of President Trump.
He also has been a champion of the powerless and underprivileged, supporting legislation to bring electricity and safe drinking water to impoverished areas and pushing for a greater commitment to fight human slavery worldwide. Put short, he is a fighter and a man of high morals and convictions, a thinking man’s lawmaker who doesn’t have a notoriously short fuse or shoot from the lip.
Instead of dumping on Corker, who has questioned Trump’s actions and judgment, the president should have listened to the senator and accepted what he said as fair and constructive criticism. That’s what good leaders do. Unfortunately, Trump lashed back at Corker, revealing himself to be the sort of leader who seems to demand blind loyalty and unquestioned support. But that’s not good for the president or for the nation.
This disappointing blow-up would seem to make it harder for all the do-nothings in Washington to work together and come up with solutions to the nation’s problems. If Trump goes out of his way to alienate his GOP supporters, how is he going to attract Democrat support he needs or maintain his Republican base?
Trump’s lack of self-discipline and his impulsivity are known shortcomings. His competency has been called into question as well. Yet many good men and women have stuck by him, working for what they believe to be the good of the nation. Yet Trump, who can’t seem to hold his tongue, whether he’s profanely ripping pro football players or launching tweetstorms against his own secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, or now, Bob Corker, who has perhaps worked as hard as any lawmaker to smooth over Trump’s rough edges and make him more palatable and successful, especially on the foreign policy front.
And how did Trump repay this loyal GOP soldier from the Volunteer State? By belittling him, calling him names and claiming that the senator lacked the guts to run for re-election and was fawning for the president’s endorsement.
“I said NO THANKS,” Trump responded in one of his characteristic tweet blasts.
Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has stuck out his neck for Trump. He has been working hard on coming up with a better deal on controlling Iran’s nuclear ambitions and to cool down many hot spots around the globe. The fact of the matter is that Trump probably needs Corker more than Corker needs Trump.
He certainly doesn’t need the aggravation of not being respected or appreciated. His decision to retire is a loss for the Senate, for the nation, and for Trump. His expertise and understanding of complex matters will be sorely missed, but they will be essential in the months ahead. Indeed, the senator, whom Trump mocked as “Liddle Bob Corker,” now has the potential to become a fierce adversary and block some of Trump’s initiatives, like tax reform. In a Senate with 52 Republicans, every vote counts.
Corker seems to be in no mood to mend fences, firing back at Trump with his own barbed tweet that, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
Corker’s retirement is courageous. He is willing to end his political career for the sake of his nation. He is a statesman who put his country ahead of his party and is a voice of reason who will be missed in the giant adult day care center called Washington.
The Trump-Corker blow-up is a low point for the president. While Trump proved he can beat long odds to win an election, he has yet to prove he can govern. Or be an effective leader.