By PEGGY NOONAN, DECLARATIONS Updated November 1, 2012 –
From historic figure to beleaguered incumbent in less than four years.
So where are we? A softly catastrophic storm left us, in the Northeast, shocked at the depth and breadth of its power to destroy. Everyone who could be was hunkered down Monday waiting it out, and at first we hoped it might not be as bad as we’d been warned, because we’d all seen higher wind and harder rain. But the waters rose and wouldn’t stop, breaching dunes, overwhelming barriers, filling the tunnels and subways like a bathtub, as somebody said on TV. It was—is—a true crisis. So far, our political leaders have done pretty well. But the hard part will be from here on in—getting things up and operating again without the original adrenaline rush.
Democratic pollster Doug Schoen on Mitt Romney’s path to victory, and how the hurricane might affect turnout. Photo: Associated Press
New York’s mayor, Mike Bloomberg, was sterling—a solid, unruffled giver of information whose news conferences were blessedly free of theatrics save for his gifted sign-language interpreter, who wowed a city and left the young evacuees in my apartment furiously signing “Where’s the coffee?” and “I think the baby needs to be changed.” Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey was his usual compelling self, similarly informative. This is a man who knows a levy from a berm. He is one tough red-state player on a blue-state field. If Mitt Romney loses, will Mr. Christie garner Republican criticism for his hearty embrace of president Obama just days before the election? Yes, he will. Will it hurt him in Jersey? Not a bit. Will it help Jersey? Yes. They are cold and wet and running out of food in the house. Keep your friends close and your president closer.
The “I” of the storm was New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo. He was equally competent and effortful but took the mildly hectoring tone of a kind of leftism that is now old. It involves phrases like “As I’ve long said.” I think this is the worst and I was appalled and when I was at HUD I handled storms and I learned a great deal and I saw we were prepared and I am relieved and I will work hard and I need you to know global warming is what I told you it was.