Obamateurism of the Day

This one was so obvious, even Politico reported it as a flub. Barack Obama gave Americans living in Hurricane Sandy’s path some great advice if thing suddenly got bad in the storm, which was to go onto the Internet and keep up with the latest information. That’s certainly great advice … if the storm hasn’t knocked out your power and/or Internet connection:

When President Barack Obama urged Americans under siege from Hurricane Sandy to stay inside and keep watch on ready.gov for the latest, he left out something pretty important — where to turn if the electricity goes out.

Yeah, that might be an important consideration — and it was for millions of Americans who lost power for a significant amount of time during the storm. In this case, Obama wasn’t alone in failing to think outside the (computer) box:

Despite the heightened expectation of widespread power and cable television failures, everyone from the president to local newscasters seem to expect the public to rely entirely on the Internet and their TVs for vital news and instructions.

None of the major cable or local news channels put emergency phone numbers or key radio station frequencies on their screens.

And what’s worse is that the advice to check out ready.gov turns out to be rather lousy advice.  Why?  Because ready.gov wasn’t, er, ready:

The only phone-related instructions on the homepage of ready.gov is how to get monthly disaster-prep text messages. The Federal Emergency Management Agency told the public via Twitter to use texts and social media outlets to stay informed.

That’s fine for those with smartphones, but not exactly helpful for those without.  And even those with smartphones need cell service to use texting, social media, and the Internet, much of which failed in New York City during the storm.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!

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