It’s no secret that how a president responds to a natural disaster can affect his fortunes. President Barack Obama’s reaction to Hurricane Sandy contributed significantly to his 2012 reelection. President George W. Bush’s fumbled response to Hurricane Katrina was part of a ruinous sequence of events in 2005 that destroyed his second term’s political momentum.
So, here’s some specific advice for President Trump.
First, watch all of the coverage closely. Speak with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long often. If you must tweet, tweet only about the storm and its impacts. Act as a concerned family member would when news of a family tragedy arrives but details are few.
And some advice for my colleagues in the media: Be very slow to politicize this storm. It looks to be quite awful in its impacts.
And, crucially, if people express online or on air that they are praying for the victims of the storm, ditch the snarky assaults on such traditional expressions. Prayer’s not a sentiment. It’s a real and often cherished act and gift.