Breaking: Bush unlikely to attend convention

Well, the Bush administration learned one lesson after Hurricane Katrina — don’t act uncaring.  In a move that should surprise no one, the White House announced this morning that George Bush won’t make it to St. Paul for the Republican Convention, with Hurricane Gustav set to make landfall in Louisiana during the opening day.  Instead, Bush will have ‘alternate plans’ for Monday:

The White House says it is unlikely that President Bush will attend the Republican National Convention on Monday as scheduled because of concerns about Hurricane Gustav.

The convention schedule has the president set to speak late Monday night in St. Paul, Minn. But those plans appear to be on hold because of the monster storm that could make landfall along the Gulf Coast as early as Monday.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino says it is unlikely right now that Bush will go to Minnesota on Monday. She says alternate plans are being prepared.

Given the track record of Louisiana disasters, this time Bush will want to be as close as possible to demonstrate leadership and the critical nature of the response.  However, everyone else appears to have learned their lessons, too.  Ray Nagin called for a mandatory evacuation yesterday, enough time for those who wish to get out of the path of the storm to do so.  Kathleen Blanco has another job now, and Bobby Jindal has already called the National Guard into action.

All in all, it looks like all levels of American government have prepared for disaster much more thoroughly than in 2005.

As I commented earlier on Allahpundit’s thread last night, calls to postpone the convention are completely unrealistic at this point.  The RNCC had to reserve the Xcel Center and its two adjoining venues for two months to properly construct its infrastructure, and they only have two weeks to dismantle it and return the venues to their original state before the Wild plays its first exhibition game.  Delegates and media have had hotel reservations and flight arrangements made, as well as time off from work, etc.

At this point, they have to hold it or cancel it altogether.  And why do the latter?  The only people who would attend the convention who have anything to do with relief efforts are George Bush and Dick Cheney.  Neither of them have to attend, although their presence will be missed.  Republicans can raise money during the convention for the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and/or any relief organization who can assist the people living in the impact area.  That would be a lot more productive — and responsible — than running away.

Update: Instapundit has a poll on this very question.  At this point, three-quarters of respondents agree with me.  It probably won’t last, but I’m enjoying it while I can ….